Monday, September 27, 2004

Voter Poll

I asked some friends about their voting habits. It was by no means a scientific polling, I mean, I got like a 40% return. The Gallup organization should fall at my feet...except that I polled like people. And I'm counting myself in that response percentage.

Nonetheless I did identify a pattern. We are more likely to vote in a nationwide election than in something local.

My concerns with this are twofold.

First, as important as I think it is to vote in any election I have to admit that my vote in a nationwide election is a drop in the bucket. And we're talking a 10 gallon pickle tub here. A local election has fewer votes. In the right town a school board vote can be decided by one vote and that vote could be yours. Not to mention the fact that you're going to be even more closely affected by the outcome of these votes.

Second, a reason that I'm hearing for not voting in smaller elections is that we don't feel informed enough. By some transitive property does this mean that we do feel better informed for a national election? If we're true to form in our research we're getting our information on these nationwide elections from commercials, the occasional press conference, and maybe an article on the web. So, we're better informed by political commercials? Have we WATCHED political commercials?! Propaganda does not make for good education.

I can hear you asking, "Well great, you've identified more problems, what about solutions you big downer?"

Well, I'd say that the local politician that could inform a local voter without pissing them off would be on to something. I don't know how one would do that. A nice half hour sitcom? This is the girl who learned more about politics and foreign policy from The West Wing than from anything else in her life.

Suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


These 2 things happened ages ago. I've known about them the whole time. Yet somehow I just noticed that they have certain similarities.

For many reasons my family on my dad's side is very inclusive. So throughout my parents' slow tearing off of the band aid of marriage (it's not quite off but signs point to a possible end) my mother has always been invited to everything; Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, funerals, weddings. My parents started the slow burn when I was around 12 (possibly earlier but actions were taken around my 12th year) and mom tells me that at a family gathering (Christmas I believe) some time after that my grandfather apologized to her. An acknowledgement of the failing of his line I think. I picture it as one of those quiet moments, maybe when mom and I were going one way and dad another with separate bags full of presents in separate cars and when Robbie was hugging my mother goodbye he looked at her and said, "I'm sorry."

A few years later I got a boyfriend, JMaster. Many years later we broke up. It was all civil and pleasant and be the bigger person. I learned well from my parents. Then something happened (whole. other. entry.) that gave me the opportunity to sever ties with the JMaster completely. At some point I was on the phone with my dad and we were talking and I explained that ties had been severed, phone numbers had been erased, photographs has been put in a box and shut in the back of the closet. Many phone calls later my dad asked again about JMaster and I had to re-explain and I probably got a little uppity about it. My father's response was, "He was my friend too." My reaction to that gem was to be pleasant and accomodating and see his side of it and feel bad for my dad. This was almost a decade ago now. Last week this little nugget came up in a conversation with my friend, PonyExpress. She was horrified. I never thought of it like that. But she's right, it's pretty horrifying that my father would give me a tough time about screwing up his friendship with some guy.

OK, now that I write them down I realize that similarities might not have been the right word to use. But there's something about them that speaks in the same voice. The echo of your relationships on other people.

I was recently hanging out with the girl half of one of those couples that you can just see being together in a hundred years. She was frustrated at the boy half and discouraged and she said so. All of a sudden I wanted to get the hell out of there, I didn't want to be talking to her any more and I had no blood in my tongue, could absolutely not get a word out for her. Last night I passed both halves attached at the elbows smiling and chatting and walking down the street and it was like some little knot of tension in me slid out. I learned so well from my parents.

Monday, September 20, 2004


It's important, don't you think?

I do. I really, really do.

Also, I'm a person who's kind of all or nothing. So I vote whenever I can. Circuit court judge, council member, congressperson, President. I'm all over it.

Do not take this to mean that I'm one of those super informed people that reads every tiny little thing that comes into the inbox about every issue. 'Cause I'm not and I don't. I'll tell you what's interesting about that, though.

You can still vote even if you don't know every last little thing about the Junior High School transcript of Velmanette Montgomery.

One time I went in and there were 3 referendums on the ballot and I didn't know anything about them. You know what I did? I read them. Then I spent a minute or 2 and I thought about them. Then I voted my conscience.


I'm not the perfect voter. I can get better.

Think of it this way, I've probably got as much room to improve in my physical fitness as in my electoral fitness. If I can do just 10 minutes a day of exercise then I'm getting better and eventually I'll be able to work longer and do more and some day become comfortably fit. I vote. And I try to stretch the best of my ability to vote every time I do it. I try to listen more to what's going on around me in politics and to read more and vote in a more informed way. Now you move that analogy along and you get this: if one doesn't vote until one knows enough about all the issues on the ballot then is it not the equivalent of not working out at all until you've got the absolute perfect 1 hour work out planned, every second of it? That's not going to do you nearly as much good as just doing something.

I don't think that the system is perfect. And it may well be getting less perfect as each day rolls by. But it's the system we have and it is a good one. The only way to make it better is to work out just a few minutes a day until we achieve that perfect one hour workout.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I declare that

My creative self roams the world free; developing, living & enjoying all the things of which I dream. In February I am touring Susanna Shakespeare. Fitness is a pleasing habit. My home is a comfortable and inspiring creative haven. In a year the 2nd Susanna Shakespeare play is written and I am reading my first piece of writing in an established publication. In 2 years my touring educational theatre company is thriving and I have a schedule of dance and theatre classes that I am teaching in a safe, fun home base in NYC. The first performance of my Chekhov piece happens in this year. In 5 years my educational and independent theatre pieces and my classes live and grow in a dedicated space, fed by the creativity of a core of like-minded artists and we’re selling copies of my first critically acclaimed, best selling novel in the lobby.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Some of this

Some of this, these posts, are fiction. Not all of them but enough. I realize that, if you don't know that, my life might be more exciting, and possibly scarier, than it is in real life.

If it bugs you not to know, leave a comment, I can enlighten you.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Things those boys could have done...

...instead of discussing their eating habits at many decibels outside my window from 11:30 to 2 last night.

- Worked. Might I suggest jobs like bartending in a crowded club or teaching in an unruly high school, something that makes you hoarse so you can't talk loudly afterwards.

- Written down the eating habits and sexual stories. That's quiet. And creative! I'm pretty sure the scratch of pen to paper wouldn't have woken me up.

- Studied. Say, take some classes in psychology, specializing in conflict resolution even and do your studying after the quiet curfew at 10pm. I'm telling you, that conflict resolution stuff is going to come in handy when I lose my shit and start shooting them with my water pistol.

- It's another work one but it's worth mentioning, manned the 311 phone lines. They need help all night long and it would have shortened my wait on hold last night.

- Aren't there some after midnight volunteering opportunities? They say that charity begins at home, they could have at least gone home and maybe cleaned the bathroom or done the dishes for whoever puts up with their inconsiderate asses every frigging day.

- Slept.

If I hadn't been so fucking tired I would have gone downstairs and registered them to vote. It wouldn't have shut them up but it would have been useful and it would have confused the hell out of them.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I'm a Waiter

So, I'm waiting.
It's OK, I guess, I'm used to it.
I've been waiting all my life, really.
This time I've only been waiting 2 hours.
This time.
My mother said she'd be here, "Right away."
On the second phone call she was "On her way."
As I dialed the third call I realized what I was doing and hung up.
I washed the dishes, threw in a load of laundry, balanced my checkbook, dried the dishes, put the wash in the dryer, wiped down every surface in the kitchen, put the dishes away.
I could be done before she ever shows up.
Except that that's not fucking fair!
She promised she would help.
And I believed her.
The thing is, I said I'd do it myself. I did the good girl, martyr thing. I told her I'd just come up today and do it on my own. She said she'd help. So I said she should if she WANTED to but if she didn't WANT to it was fine, no truly, fine, I promise, I'm happy to do it. It was too much. I should have left well enough alone. Now she thinks I'm trying to put one over on her, do something behind her back.
So now I have to wait.
With my dad there is no waiting.
With my dad you head out the door at the appointed time, preparation be damned! If you end up in Timbuktu without your ice pick and your Himalayan-American dictionary so be it! At least you got there on time.
If my dad were meeting me here we'd already be done.
My dad would never have met me here for this. He'd have had a pressing prior engagement.
One he certainly needed to be on time for.
Maybe I'll go out for coffee and when I come back she'll be here.
Yeah. Right.
Maybe it's just hard for her and that's what's keeping her.
Fooling. Myself. Thirty years running.
I mean, I'm sure it IS hard for her but that's not what's making her late. She'd be late if we were just going to lunch. There is no task too small or too great for which my mother cannot be late.
I could clean the bathroom. And probably the refrigerator without her getting too upset. Maybe wash the floors.
Or, you know, I could just wait. Get some coffee, sit on the porch steps and just wait quietly until she gets here.
But I don't want to wait.
I'm sick of waiting.
I've been waiting all my life.

I have waited to be taken to work, to school, to friends' houses, to piano lessons, to movies, to the mall, to Thanksgiving dinner, to the airport.
I have waited to be picked up from all those same places. And more.
I have been forgotten completely at least twice.
I have waited for things promised; dinner, candy, presents, stories.
I have waited for things needed; medicine, towels, toilet paper, to be listened to.
I have waited in stores, in restaurants, at tables, on porches, in bed, on the couch, in the car. In the car. So long in the car.
I never go anywhere without a book to read in case (when ) I need to wait.

There are plenty of books here but none I can sit down to right now.

When I was little I used to work at waiting. First to be patient enough and later to speed her arrival.
If I cross my fingers she will come sooner.
If I can find every letter of the alphabet on the signs on this wall I will turn and she will be here.
She will turn the corner at the end of 6 choruses of Happy Birthday, or 3 verses of O Come All Ye Faithful or 64 bottles of beer on the wall.
If I go into the bathroom to pee she'll arrive.
But what if she leaves before I come out?
Better wait.
Better wait. To wait better. I wait better than anyone else I know. I am a champion waiter. You need someone to wait for a phone call, a delivery, a sign from the deity of your choice? I'm your girl. Because I have waited for things that are far less likely to come.

Not so long ago we waited.
Not for my mother.
For my grandmother.
For her to die.
My mom, Uncle Joe, Cindy, Auntie Glin, sitting in a hospital room with Gammy.
It's pretty close quarters. There was squabbling.
"You should get something to eat."
"Come with me?"
"I don't want to leave Cindy alone."
"I'm not hungry."
"You haven't eaten anything since breakfast."
"Well, you need to eat to take your medicine."
"Cindy can go get something."
"Alone?" With raised eyebrow.
I finally sent them all away. I decided to just do it alone.
So I waited with my grandmother. Talked to her. Cried. Stared fuzzily at the television. Held her already cold hand. Covered our jointly chilly fingers with the blanket. Thought about how silly and useless that gesture was. Prayed for Gammy to go, go before they all get back and start talking again.
But my grandmother was a woman unaccustomed to being either early or late so she was not encouraged to hustle along to fit my accelerated schedule.
They all came back.
I moved so mom could hold Gammy's hand.
And we waited some more.
Listened to the undignified whine of Gammy's breathing. Then to the more dignified intakes and outbreaths. And, almost unexpectedly, to silence.
"I think that was it."
It didn't feel to me as though the waiting were over.
I didn't expect that.
And I suppose in a way it isn't. I'm here, chin in hand at my grandmother's counter waiting for my mother to get her so we can clean out the house.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Point A to Point B and that's it

I'm freakishly linear. Anyone who knows me is possibly wondering how I'm just figuring this out now. And I'll tell you.

I keep rearranging my furniture. I do it in my head and I do it for real every so often. I'm looking for the perfect exact arrangement so I never have to move anything ever again because I like things to be set and understandable. No pressure there, "You better think carefully about where you put this couch because it's going to stay there for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!"

I just moved the ridiculous number of chairs I have and my table and when I looked at them after moving them in what I thought was a pleasantly logical way and discovered that they're all lined up against the wall like dodgeball victims.

My bed is actually at a jaunty angle in the bedroom. For about 3 days now I've been dreaming about lining it up flush with a wall.

I crave more room in a city where there just isn't much. I have too much stuff. I could probably cut down on some of it but that's going to take a while. In the meantime lining up all my furniture against the walls opens up a straight corridor from the bathroom to the front door and that makes for wide open spaces.

I am so Capricorn it's not even funny.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I am an old woman...

...named after my mother...

OK, no, I'm not named after my mother but I'm getting old, and crochety. I'm the old lady that's always standing in the town hall with polaroids of the damage to her rose bushes demanding to have a police escort back home to arrest the offending children and send them off to military school.

But Jesus! I need my rest.

I know, I know, it probably wouldn't KILL me to stay up past 11 once in a while. And I didn't absolutely keel over when I didn't get to sleep until after 2 on Thursday. I like things regular. I'm boring and regular. I go to bed at 10 and that's OK with me.

Here's the thing though. I like stuff to be my own damn choice. I don't like to be forced to do, in the right context I'm pretty pleased to be asked firmly if you know what I mean, but I don't like taking orders in everyday life. I don't like bending to the will of the many. Maybe that's because I'm so damn good at following the rules. I do that without thinking so if you're telling me what to do then you're probably going to piss me off, I'm rarely coloring outside the lines and if I am then I deserve the break!

So on Thursday night the same damn group of boys were distinctly NOT following the rules. They were sitting in the courtyard talking, very loudly. Laughing and screeching and discussing how long each and every one of them had been sexually active. As boys will do.

But after 10pm there's no talking or loitering or screwing around in the courtyard. And FYI the courtyard is RIGHT BELOW MY WINDOW. By the time I'd torn my sobbing ass away from the travesty of justice that was W's speech at the Republican National Convention it was like 11:30. At 12:20 I snapped. How can they have that much to say? They've only got a 15 word vocabulary, how can you put 15 words together in enough combinations to keep talking this long? So I call Security. I know I'm supposed to call 311 but refer to the above about how when I break a rule I've already paid my dues for it. The conversation goes like this:

"North Side Security"

"Hi, I'm in 165, is there anything you can do to move those guys in the courtyard."

"I have already asked them politely twice. The only thing we can do is call 311. These are YOUR families!"

He said more but the film of red rage had descended over my eyes and ears by this point so I can't remember much of it. I think it involved an apology after I growled, "Not MY family!" (Believe me, if it was my family not only would they each know more than one measly way to say "fuck" I'd have already kicked their asses out of the courtyard long since.) I waited until I could draw breath to explain that I would be calling 311 and that yelling at me for calling and asking for help was NOT making the situation better but thank you for your help blah blah blah.

Why exactly do I feel the need to be polite even when someone is treating me like shit? I think it's probably about being the better person, i.e. feeling superior to the ass monkey. You know what? Superior is not as satisfying as you hope.

So I called 311. I told them my name and address and the address of the noise complaint and how long it had been going on and I even got up and wrote down the mother sucking confirmation number. And the next day I called the management office and I registered my complaint with them. I told the manager about the noise and I gave him my confirmation number and I repeated it 3 times so he could get it right and I had my moment about the damn security guy too.

I am so old I'm organized about my anger.

Look for me next week to be soaking them with a hose and calling their mothers and disparaging their parenting techniques.

It's a good thing I left the small town life. Can you imagine what I'd be like in a community that encouraged this sort of behavior?

"You kids get off my lawn!"

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Go now

Go see Garden State.

Right now.

You won't regret it.

In a world where movies can cost $10 or more this is one time you can feel OK about that.