Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hi. Just like last time I posted, I'm not dying to write something long and interesting at the moment. But I need to take a minute to say something. Over the Thanksgiving holiday that just ended, I was at home with my Mom, and we began talking about a fucked up episode in my childhood, in which my Mom behaved very irresponsibly, basically destroying her marriage and scarring me for life. (That sentence is meant to be a tad tongue in cheek, but it's basically true.) In this conversation, she proposed that we try to do some "work" on this -- i.e., we consider doing therapy together, or making a point of talking it out between the two of us, etc. She asked me (and she's actually asked me this before) if there's anything I'd like to say to her about that episode, and honestly, I couldn't really think of anything.

But I resolved to try to do some thinking, privately, about it. And the best way I could think of to go about that was to write about it. So I'm sort of introducing that project here.

Interestingly, my very inclination right now is to say "okay, my job's done here -- I 'introduced the project,' I'll actually do the writing later." I suspect that that is of a piece with the fact that I couldn't really think of anything to say to my Mom, and the fact that I have only very cloudy memories of my parents' break-up, despite the fact that it happened when I was 16. I.e., I really don't want to think about this much. I don't want to force it here, but maybe I'll try to write a little.

Maybe I'll just tell the story. Here goes. I might not finish this in this post, but I'll pick it up later.

When I was 10, my mother started having an affair. She had her affair with a woman -- somewhat shocking to a little boy who'd only known his mother to ever love his father -- and, in fact, a woman who was quite a bit older than her. In fact, this woman (we'll call her Blanche) had been my mother's high school math teacher. Further, she and my mother had had a sexual relationship when my mother was her student. Okay, so you get an idea of the sort of person Blanche was. She was the sort of person who'd molest -- is that fair to say? I'm not sure -- a 15-year-old girl who trusted and respected her. And, as we found out, she was the type of person who'd take advantage of that same girl, now 40 years old, who had never dealt with that undoubtedly insane childhood experience and was now struggling with a very unhappy marriage. Let me just say now, I hate Blanche.

Anyway, so my mother has this affair with Blanche. My brother and I didn't know this was going on, until my Mom took us to live with Blanche for the summer. Once we were there, well, frankly, I heard them having sex. They didn't, like, kiss in front of us or anything, but I knew enough to know what I was hearing. It still turns my stomach to think about it. (But is that just because it's yucky to think of your mother having sex? Probably.) So there I was, a 10-year-old boy, living in a house with his mother and her lover, while my father was 3,000 miles away in the only home I'd ever known before that point. It was horrible, or at least I think so. Don't remember it that well. I do remember just wishing so much that I could be home with my father, and I remember really hating Blanche.

I guess that's the whole story. We lived there for the summer, and then went back home and back to school. We went out there again the following summer, and did it all over again. I hated it just as much that time. Went back home and back to school, and then never went back there again. But I do remember my mom talking to Blanche on the phone after that, and I'd always know that's who she was talking to because she got this really soft tone in her voice -- I never knew whether she was being seductive or just trying to keep me and my father and brother from hearing her, but either way it was not good. Meanwhile, my father had an affair -- basically in response to my Mom's. He wasn't as overt about it, but I remember thinking he might be having an affair, or something along those lines -- I knew he had a friend, we'll call her Mona, and I just remember suspecting it was romantic. All very fucking sordid.

Then, things seemed to me to go back to normal. And suddenly, five or six years later, my Dad announced he was moving out.

Well, that's really the whole story. I don't have any great insight from writing this. I knew I'd have to revisit it multiple times. But yeah. I don't want to. I'm grossed out. And you know, honestly, I don't want to be mad at my Mom. I don't want to dredge up anger with her that I'd let settle over the years. My relationship with her is at a good place right now, and I'd rather not fuck that up. But I guess it's probably important, right? I don't know, I just can't really imagine talking to her on the phone about this, telling her "yeah, I was just remembering how bad it made me feel to hear you talking to Blanche, because your voice always took on this seductive quality, and I hated it so much." I mean, that's my Mom, I can't make her cry! (And she would inevitably cry, even though she told me "it's not like I couldn't stand to hear what you have to say.") That's part of my problem, though. I just can't stand to hurt her. I want every phone call to end with me saying, "...and that's why I'm doing great and you don't have to worry about me at all. Boy it was good talking to you!" Oy vey. I don't know. Blech.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I don't really have the time or inclination to write a long post right now. Not sure why that is -- it's part of the natural cycle, I guess, of my blogging life. I'm sure in about two years I'll pick it up again, probably with some new focus, and do it steadily for a few weeks before getting bored of it all over. But anyway, I've just been reading over the content here, and I feel I need to say something.

W and I have been in our new city, living in that gigantic rental I was talking about, for about six months now. And as a general rule, we've been extraordinarily happy. That's basically all I wanted to say -- I read some of my old posts and I can see that there were some very, very, VERY dark times not that long ago. I just want to officially note that those dark times aren't all there is to our life. We've been happy as hell lately. (Of course, for the sake of completeness, I should note that we've had our worries too -- the biggest ones being, "okay, I guess we need to start looking to buy a house again," and "okay, are we going to have kids or what?" I'm sure I'll blog about those sometime soon, unless I have in fact given up blogging for good. But I don't want to dilute the force of my point here, that overall we've been happy.)

A couple specific things I should note: we love our house and neighborhood. We've gotten very friendly with a number of the people on our block, and we've been making a point of being social and getting out of the house. And some of these people really are a lot of fun, and really seem to appreciate us and our perspective on things. And we've been really loving each other lately, and appreciating every moment we have together.

I guess writing this post is pointing up something that everyone knows, which is that pain and darkness are much more interesting than happiness and light. This post isn't as interesting as those older ones. It's kind of boring, frankly. I mean, it's just hard to go on and on about how happy you are. I guess that's because happiness is, in its pure form, a very simple emotion? If you had more to say, it would be because there was something complicating the happiness, maybe? I'm not sure, honestly. This is another of those things I've wondered about for a long time. I remember, back when we were kids, W asking me, "why does it feel like sadness is infinite, and moments of happiness are fleeting?" Somehow I think that's connected to this point, but I'm not sure why.

But, I mean, everyone knows this. Sadness has depth to it; happiness is shallow. That's not a flip judgment on people -- like, people who are happy are shallow -- I really mean it, about the emotions themselves. Happiness is just happiness! Sadness is grief, and sorrow, and jealousy, and insecurity, and a neverending morass of conflicting and complicated emotions, one leading to the other, for ever.

It's so odd, though. Happiness is more than "just happiness," isn't it? Isn't it contentment, and elation, and satisfaction, and on and on, right? And yet you always feel that there's some sadness lurking in the background. I think I told W, back when we talked about this, that sadness is an emotion you have to "deal with." But happiness, you just let it be. And what this means is, when there's happiness and sadness in a moment, it's the sadness that demands your attention, your concentration; so you feel that, while there's some happiness there, you're going to have to deal with that sadness. This is why it's so hard to ignore sadness, and why sadness is always lurking there -- if you had to "deal with" happiness, you wouldn't be able to forget about it either.

So is there a lesson here? Probably -- if you could come up with a way to require yourself to deal with happiness, without turning it into something negative, maybe you'd be a happier person. Yes, but... part of what's good about happiness is that you don't have to deal with it, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Here's what I don't get: why don't these two NY Times articles say whether MoveOn was able to pick the day their ad ran, and/or whether they were told which day it would run? That seems to be the heart of the controversy. They do tell us that Giuliani was told which day his ad would run, so they can apparently get that info. Doesn't say whether they got it from Giuliani or the paper, but presumably they could try the analogous approach w/ the MoveOn ad and report the results. But there's no mention.

For the record, as you know, I'm a lefty type. But I'm very suspicious of Kat Seelye's reporting because of her role in fucking over Al Gore (and the rest of the country as a result) in 2000.

UPDATE: I'll be damned. I guess this is why. Fucking idiots.
I'm just taking a few seconds to write something down that I've been thinking about, and that I'm afraid I am going to forget. Actually, there's good news and there's bad news. The bad news is, I'm about to repeat some words of wisdom I learned from the insipid (but entertaining) TV show Psych. So that fact is thoroughly embarrassing. Add to that the fact that, I think, Psych was repeating this precisely because it's considered a stupid cliche. So my finding it somehow profound is really just humiliating. The good news is that it is something that can help me in my relationship with W, I think -- in fact, I think it's already been helping me.

Here goes: on this particular episode of Psych, the straight-laced square detective (Lassiter) is being berated by some over-achieving genius high school students, about something having to do with his relationship with some woman. I can't really remember the details. Anyway, one of them says, "did you ever just listen to her problems, instead of insisting on fixing them?" Or something along those lines. It is, of course, a joke because it's something everyone's heard before. But honestly, I've always known that I react to people telling me about their problems by going, 'how can I do something about that?' And if there's nothing I can do, I basically get annoyed that they're telling me -- 'what the hell do they want me to do about that?!'

This is especially problematic vis-a-vis W. That's no way to react to the person who's supposed to be able to talk to you about anything. It's especially sad because I considered myself so sensitive and good with people for so many years. Anyway I've been putting it into practice lately -- of course, if there's something that I can do that really will solve her problem, I'll try to do it. But even if there isn't, I've been trying to just listen, and say, "oh, man, that sucks!" And things like that. Tonight I said "don't worry about that." And then I corrected myself -- "But, of course I understand that you're worried and why." I think this kind of thing is good. So I'm writing it down because hopefully it will help me to keep it in mind.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Okay, I just posted something about politics, and then I realized that I haven't written anything about my life since the bar. Well, I took the fucker. I think I failed. W points out that I always think I failed every test I take, which is true; another friend tells me that everyone thinks they failed the bar. So, who knows. After taking the bar I got a letter from my law school telling me I graduated cum laude, which boosted my confidence a little: I mean, who graduates cum laude from a top-five law school, studies their ass off for the bar, and then fails it? But the fact is, when I think about the exam, the questions, the answers I gave, I sure as shit feel like I failed. We'll see.

I start work on Monday. I've gotten used to the life of leisure, which I've been living for over a month now, for the first time since I can remember. I'm not really looking forward to giving it up. But actually it's going to be exciting to get to work. I'll let you know how it goes.
So, John Boehner thinks that the "investment" we're making in Iraq will be a "small price" to pay if it means we're able to defeat al Qaeda and stabilize the Middle East. Well, let's put aside for the moment the fact that that is about the biggest pair of "ifs" imaginable in foreign affairs today, and focus on Greg Sargent's point. Sargent is upset that the Democrats aren't making a bigger deal about this. "Bottom line: It's hard to see what Boehner said as anything but reprehensible," he says. "And his remarks could become a big story, if Dems wanted to make it one."

Kevin Drum has complained about the same phenomenon -- the Dems' inability to respond to something like this swiftly and decisively, and their apparent preference for waiting a while, and then responding when the story has faded away. It's a very ineffectual approach, and I'm sure we'll see it played out again here.

Now, I don't know what the Dems are thinking. But I have a guess. I think that there's an internal debate -- and maybe this debate is internal to a lot of individual Democrats -- as to what to do. Because using Boehner's remark as a cudgel to personally attack him, which is what the Republicans would do, is basically reprehensible and doesn't get us anywhere. Demanding apologies and the like does nothing but make Boehner look bad -- it doesn't advance the debate. And I like to believe that Dems want to be above that sort of thing. (Probably wrong though.) On the other hand, of course, they are missing a very big political opportunity to beat up the other side here, and god knows in today's political climate, that seems to be what needs to be done.

That said, here's what I think the Dems should do. They should immediately speak out about this comment. But they shouldn't demand an apology from Boehner, or address him directly at all -- they shouldn't scold him and all that, the way the Republicans probably would. Instead, they should talk about his comment to the American public, and say "Here is a perfect example of the problem. The Republicans just can't see the enormity of the price we're paying in lives and dollars. They just don't see 3,500 soldiers' lives as a real sacrifice. This is why we can't let them be the ones making decisions about the war anymore." Something like that. Because really, that's why it matters. I mean, I'm sure that if Boehner had been pressed on his remark at the time, he would have said, "of course that's not what I meant" -- and he would have been sincere. But the fact that he said it is telling. It means that, at the forefront of his mind -- when he's not thinking carefully -- he sees what's happening in Iraq as "small"!

This is extraordinarily important because at the moment the essence of the debate is a cost-benefit analysis: anti-war types think that the cost isn't worth whatever potential benefit there is; and pro-war types feel the opposite. And Boehner's comment reveals a very twisted, very warped gauge of the cost. We shouldn't take seriously the cost-benefit analysis of someone who can't gauge the cost.

UPDATE: after writing this post, I tried to summarize it in a comment on the Horse's Mouth blog. It didn't work -- comments are disabled or something, not sure. But I like my short version of this post, so I'm copying it here instead:
Well said, as usual, Greg.

I'd add that Dems should take this opportunity, not to attack Boehner personally, but to point out to the American public that this sort of thinking is the reason that the Republicans can't be trusted anymore to make decisions on Iraq. I suspect that many Dems aren't responding directly because they think that public scolding and demands for apologies don't get us anywhere, and they like to see themselves as above that sort of politics. But they don't have to go that route. Instead, they should point out that, when Boehner speaks frankly, he reveals that he has an inability to recognize the sacrifice in lives and dollars that Americans are making in Iraq every day.

This is particularly important because, at its heart, the Iraq debate is now largely a matter of cost vs. benefit. Anti-war types point out that the cost is enormous, and that the potential benefits (i.e., in Boehner's words, "if we’re able to stop al Qaeda here, if we’re able to stabilize the Middle East") are so incredibly speculative as to be probably non-existent. Pro-war types don't see it that way. In Boehner's remark, he revealed that he simply can't see the cost for what it is -- his gauge of the price we're paying is totally off, warped even.

Dems should hold this statement up as a rare glimpse of the way pro-war politicians, comfortable in their Washington offices, are making their decisions on Iraq.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

No time, of course, since I'm studying for the bar. But I have to keep constant tabs on, as I need something to distract me, and keep me from doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Just refreshed and saw a post referring to this article in the WaPo, discussing a Rand Corp. study commissioned by the U.S. Joint Forces Command.

I haven't read the article, of course, but this quote apparently sums it up: "[Iraqi civilians] are less likely to help, the study says, when they become 'collateral damage' in U.S. attacks, have their doors broken down or are shot at checkpoints because they do not speak English."

Now, that has got to be a joke. There's no way someone wrote that sentence with a straight face, not realizing how insane it is. Our military, after four years of warfare, has just commissioned a study to tell them that it's easier to get people to join your cause if you don't shoot them. I love the fact that it says they're "less likely" to help. So, those people who are being shot for not speaking English -- they're still somewhat likely to help us, just not as likely.

History will judge us harshly.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

So the bar is five days away now. Holy mozoli. I've been studying my butt off. The fussed up thing is that I don't have any idea how I'm doing. They tell me that you should shoot to get 60% correct on the multistate portion of the exam. Every time I take a practice test, I get about 75% right. But I am really, honest-to-god guessing on a good three-quarters of the question, which makes me think that score isn't a slam dunk. Then there's the essay portion. After two months of classes, I still don't have a clue how they score those fuckers. On the practice exams, I usually get a few completely wrong, a few right, and a few kind of in-between. I don't know what this means. I keep reminding myself, "Self, you're a smart guy. You've been studying a lot -- like, a whole lot. You test well, generally speaking. How could you not pass this?" I think that I really believe that, deep down. But it is pretty fucking scary. If I don't pass... well, I don't want to go into that. I don't want to get myself all upset.

Anyway, the prevailing feeling today is complete uncertainty about what to expect.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I'm studying for the bar. It's about 1.5 weeks away now, so I am studying intensely. As a result, I'm procrastinating intensely too. I just wanted to flag this. The WaPo has a series talking about four different congresspeople, whom they've each given a title to as if they were characters in a sitcom: the "conservative democrat," the "antiwar liberal," the "anguished moderate," and the "loyal republican." At the risk of being a traitor to my team, I think that (apart from just being a stupid way of reporting on politicians -- it might be acceptable if the subject were entertainment or something), the treatment of Isakson (the Republican) here is unfair. Everyone else gets a title based on their ideas about the world -- they're conservative, or liberal, or antiwar, or moderate or whatever -- but he's just a loyal republican.

Hm. Now that I think about this, though, maybe it's just accurate: maybe his whole position is just of loyalty to the president. That certainly wouldn't be a major surprise in todays republican party. Obviously, I haven't read the articles and I'm not going to, what w/ time being what it is. (To give you an idea of how tight time is, I'm typing this while sitting on the can.) So I really can't comment on whether it's accurate or not. But it is interesting.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"We've got 20-some investigations that all look good," Flynt said during a news conference at his Beverly Hills office.

"We have got some high-ranking Republican and Democratic members of the Senate and the House," he told reporters. "If I get just a couple of those phonies out of there, maybe it will be a step forward."

Flynt provided no names or details about the investigations. His comments conflicted with a press release issued by the magazine that put the number of investigations at "several."

There are of course lots of reasons to blog about this. But I'm actually just highlighting it because I'm surprised that AP believes that it's contradictory to say there are "20-some" investigations, on the one hand, and to say there are "several" investigations, on the other. That is all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I guess now that it's been a month and a half I ought to write something. It won't be good, I promise you that, but I suppose that the future me would be curious to know what I'm feeling like tonight.

You probably know what's going on in my life already, right -- W and I moved down to our new city, into this fucking palatial house in a very fancy neighborhood; we've been here for over a month and still haven't really finished unpacking (right now that just seems like such a perfect sum-up of the way we live); I've been studying for the bar and, naturally, finding myself totally freaked out and feeling totally unprepared.

At the moment, W has been away for four days or so -- she went to spend time w/ her elderly father in Cape Cod, where he's staying by himself for a little while. She was called to duty after her brother dropped the guy off and realized how old he is and asked her to come up and keep an eye on him for a bit. So she's there. She's coming home tomorrow. Frankly, it sounds like she's having a horrible time. The old coot is a true son of a bitch. It's pretty amazing. I mean, the whole thing about him is that he's just an asshole, and everybody realizes it and acknowledges it, and yet he's quite charming at the same time. It's true. I have a whole lot of affection for him. I wonder if this is how my Mom felt about my father's mother? She was ornery -- that's the word that I think sums her up best -- and I think she was flat-out mean to my mother. And my mother doesn't have any illusions about that. But it's not uncommon for her to wax sort of nostalgic about her, and say things like, "I learned a lot from that woman." Anyway, W's up there, she keeps calling me and sending me texts saying things like, "when can I come home?" Of course, then there are these little snippets, glimpses of fun and pleasant feelings, and she'll report to me things like, "we had such a great time at dinner tonight!" And I know that that must have been one hell of a dinner. Anyway, she comes home tomorrow. I feel kind of bad that it looks like she's going to leave w/ a bad taste in her mouth. That's not good. I wish the guy could get him a fucking clue and just try to make it pleasant for her last night, so that she doesn't spend the next three months thinking he's an asshole.

Well anyway. Here's the deal with me right now: my studies have been all fucking consuming. No shit. And -- the sad part -- I really don't feel like I'm necessarily going to be prepared. Wow, that is truly sad. I think I'm working harder on this shit that anyone else I know, but


just got a call from W. Bemoaning her situation. Poor thing.


Anyway, I was saying that I'm working my shishkas off (made-up Yiddish word?) but I honestly don't think I have a handle on this. It is FUCKING NUTS. Wow. I mean. You know?

So the point is, I've been here alone in this giant house for a few days now -- and frankly I haven't been alone at all since W left her job in our old home town, which was, I don't know, 2 months ago now probably. No, that can't be right. Well, at least one month. Anyway. But the point is, today I actually finished my work at about seven thirty or something. (This is remarkable because most days I'm working 'till midnight or so.) Instead of boning up on some aspect of the law that I'm weak on (believe me there are quite a fucking few) I cracked a beer and poured some scotch. Three hours later I'm not exactly toasted but I'm feeling warm. I haven't been drinking nearly enough since we've been here. So here I am, Wednesday night, by myself, sitting in the dark (that's true -- I'm not just saying it because it's something you say when you talk about drinking alone in your giant house) listening to Niel Young's "On the Beach." DAMN that's a good album for this mood.

I got hit this afternoon with the old melancholy. It's so strange, because I mentioned this to W on the phone earlier today and I was compelled to say, "it's no big deal really, it's not like it's even unpleasant." Being melancholy -- generally considered a synonym for "sad" -- isn't unpleasant. But it's true. The old melancholy -- as opposed to truly feeling bad, which happens too -- is actually almost a good feeling. It's about wanting to be alone, have some drinks, and listen to some music. In the dark. (No shit.) But I think the real point is that... what the fuck, I have no idea what the real point is. It's about wanting to be alone, and feeling like the rest of the world just doesn't get it, and just doesn't have anything for you. But it's not bad, necessarily. I mean, everything in the outside world seems wrong when you think about it from this perspective, so that's bad. Sure, it's very bad. Like, I mean, there's nothing positive going on at all from this perspective -- everything is infected with hypocrisy and any attempt to do good is bound to fail. Yeah, that's bad. But the overriding feeling is that you have to find beauty or goodness somewhere else then. And that's what music and aesthetics and booze are for. And that I can do. I can really, really, really sit and listen to some music and hear something unbelievably beautiful, especially if I'm drinking. And I can look at something that's nice to my eyes and get pleasure from it. (I seem to want to avoid the word "art," not 100% sure why that is. I guess "art" can be so infected w/ hypocrisy and posturing too... but then so can music. I don't know... it's something about the word "art." Plus, and this might be more to the point, I include things like flowers, and reflections on the river, and the sky on a nice day, etc., etc., etc., in what I'm calling "aesthetics.") I mean, I can look at something mundane and ugly and stupid and find some beauty in it if I'm in this mood. I like unpacked houses and sitting in the dark at huge tables with no one else around when I'm in this mood. Isn't it weird?

Now, I'm not going to allow myself to go down the road that this next comment by all rights probably should take me down, but here's the comment: how fucking self-absorbed can I be? I don't think I need to elaborate much on that. Read the paragraph above this one, and I think it will make sense why I'd say that. And I think that I could go down that road, but it would just end in me truly feeling bad, to quote myself, and it would NOT end in me being any more productive or useful in this world. Certainly not tonight. So what's the point? Why not enjoy this old melancholy this evening? I can tackle the world and its hypocrisy and ugliness and debasedness and infection some other time. In fact, maybe I never will. I can try to work in small ways on making individual lives better. (Some other time, of course.) This feeling is all about how the hypocrisy and its attendants really can't be conquered.

I should stop writing, but I guess this is a glimpse of what it's like inside my head... it's not going to really stop when I stop writing... Anyway the thing I was going to say was that when I was in college -- and that's a really long time ago now (before the collapse of the Soviet Union, for the record) -- I was struck by a quote from Marx calling for "a radical critique of everything existing." Or something like that. That might be wrong, but if it is, I think it's probably better than whatever is right. The thing about it is that, everything existing is infected with everything that's wrong with this world. You can't get the stink out. And so to fix it you'd have to start afresh. In college, I was hit by this when my then-girlfriend talked negatively about someone who once gave her flowers. She thought it was gross and bad. My first reaction was, "damn, giving someone flowers is nice. Really nice." But then I understood her perspective -- it was just a part of a whole way of looking at the world that was bad. Or, it had become a part of that. It wasn't the flower-giver's fault, necessarily. It's just that giving flowers was part of, well, part of everything existing. So it was fucked up.

Okay. Here's the thing: I'd better stop writing. Because the more I write the more I sound like a college student. And like I say, I haven't been a college student since the collapse of the USSR. (Actually, that's wrong. But you get the point -- it's been a long time. It was acceptable to read Marx approvingly back then.) So, just to save myself from wanting to jump off a building when I read this tomorrow, I'd better stop.

ADDED LATER: according to Google, there's only one other guy on the web who's ever referenced this quote from Marx. Are we both wrong? It can't be that no one else thinks it's remarkable, can it?

ADDED STILL LATER: okay. Don't jump off a building when you read this, future me, but it seems that most people think the word that I'm translating as "radical" really means "ruthless." And lots of people are remarking on it, and it's even the title of an essay (For a Ruthless Critique of Everything Existing).

Friday, May 18, 2007

I just noticed that I never published this post. I'm just posting it now so it's here for posterity. It's probably not complete.

Hey --

I should be doing stuff, but I'm going to take a quick break and just make note of a number of things, since I have a moment alone.

As you probably know (I say that because you are probably me), our rental did indeed work out. We had ourselves tied up in knots worrying about the fact that we didn't have anything in writing, but in the end we got the signed lease. That was nice. Tomorrow is the big fucking day. The movers show up at our storage space at 9:00 AM. Today we're trying to put the finishing touches on packing. It's not that hard, because we really don't have very much stuff, it's just that it's so unbelievably un-fun.

And another sort of revelation that I wanted to make note of is this: I am really sad, mostly to be leaving our friends. We had a little goodbye at a local bar last night -- we sent an email out to a bunch of people saying we'd be hanging out there starting around 5:00, and anyone who wanted to should stop by to say goodbye. It was sort of funny and sort of sad how few people showed; but it was a nice thing to note that the people who did show were our real bosom friends. Of course M and K were there the whole time, and E and K came down from upstate New York and surprised us. That was a real gesture of true friendship. Anyway, I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that, bizarre as it seems, I have some really good friends here and I'm sad to say goodbye.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I just noticed that I never published this post. I'm just posting it now so it's here for posterity. As you'll see, it's not complete. It ends in the middle of a sentence. But hell. Here it is.

So I graduate tomorrow. My mother and my father and his wife are coming up, and my great aunt who lives in the Bronx, and our two best friends -- M and K, who are more family to us than our family, really -- are all going to participate in the festivities in one way or another. We're going to have a lunch after the graduation, and I've been thinking I want to say a few words at lunch. It seems like a good idea to try writing out what I'm thinking of saying -- partly to help me think through what I want to say, and partly to put it down here, you know, for posterity. Not that my remarks will be earth-shattering in any way, but just so future me can have an idea of what present me was thinking on this occasion.

[Note to self -- this post seems to be being written in little fits and starts, as W walks in and out. I'm still trying to keep the fact that this blog exists pretty much between me and myself, but more importantly this post in particular should be a secret from her, I think.]

So here's basically what I think I'm going to say:

So guys -- I actually realize I have some things I'd like to say. I'm really not the speech-giving type, but I've realized over the past couple days that I'd really like to say a few things to you all as a group.

First of all, I want to tell you how much it means to me that you are all here. I really mean this, about everyone at this table, individually. I didn't think that the graduation was going to be that big of a deal to me, but the fact that you all went out of your way to be here -- and really, I

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hm. Well, I thought this was a fully-formed idea until just now when I tried to start writing about it. But maybe it's worth sketching out some of the pieces now, I don't know.

I keep the New York Review of Books in the john, and read it every time I take a crap. I've recently read a couple articles that deal with private life under communism in different ways. One of them excerpts heavily from diaries of the party faithful in Stalin's Russia; the other excerpts from poems by a guy (Zbigniew Herbert) whose family escaped Poland in 1944, after living under Stalin and then Hitler. When reading the former, I was struck with the way the diarists dealt with the unfathomable -- in this case the unfathomable cruelty being practiced by their beloved party -- by placing it in the context of the inevitability of history: "You will understand everything," one of them says of the Great Terror, "only when the purpose of all that is taking place has become clear to you." In other words, have faith. Don't expect this to make sense. Just believe.

I found that remarkable because of its clear parallel in religious faith. Not being a particularly religious guy myself -- or, more accurately, not having ever been part of a religious community -- I might have it all wrong. But I've felt for years that... well, let's start with this: I believe that doing things that don't make sense is a requirement for survival as a human. Because, ultimately, nothing makes sense. You have to be able, at some point, to take a leap and say "I'm going to believe that this is the thing to do just because I am. I'm not going to ask anything more of this." If you don't do that, you'll end up going nuts. And so clearly I think that religion has the capacity to fill this role. It's all the more powerful when you accept that it simply makes no sense. When you're doing a ritual with no meaning at all.

Hm. Yeah. See, it's not a fully formed thought. Perhaps the real point isn't that you do it knowing it has no meaning, but that you do it accepting that you don't understand the meaning. But you believe that someone or something else -- be it God, or Stalin, or the priest, or the universe -- is working through you.

Well, that clearly needs some more thought. But here's the other ingredient. In the second article I read, about the poet Zbigniew Herbert, I was struck by the closing stanza of his disturbing poem about Russian emigres:

This parable is told by Nicholas
who understands historical necessities
in order to terrify me i.e. to convince me

I think this -- this idea of "historical necessities / in order to terrify me i.e. to convince me" -- is exactly what we've seen played out in the past several years, in the way the case was made for war in Iraq. The idea is to terrify people with the idea that something is inevitable. And to then convince them that it is a historical necessity that they go along with your plan, which ultimately makes no sense.

Yo, this is sad. I have to go -- I have to leave for work soon and I need to get showered and dressed, etc. So this idea is going to go unfinished. Not that it was ultimately going to be finished. Call it a work in progress. I have faith that it will be completed one day, by someone.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I think this is odd. I took my last law school exam yesterday. W is at work, so I'm alone. I like being alone, generally. I should be doing things, like playing the guitar, etc., etc., and enjoying myself. But I'm sitting here in a cesspool of anxiety. It's like, all of a sudden, everything I ever should have worried about is coming down on me at once. I haven't been able to eat, I've got a headache, I'm just in horrible shape. I should be happy -- this is like the one day I should be relaxing -- and instead, I'm possibly more freaked out than ever. This isn't right.
Okay, a couple things I want to note, because I don't want to forget them. Things I'd like to write about more but I fear I never will, so I'll just mention them here.

First of all, and most importantly, my wife contacted everyone in my family about their coming to my graduation. This was a really, really, sweet and special gesture. I never contacted them myself -- I don't know why, it's a manifestation of my craziness. I do that. I just can't bring myself to get in touch with people. Certainly part of it in this case was that I didn't want to put them in the awkward position of having to tell me they couldn't make it; another component was that our apartment is such an unmitigated shithole that I don't want them to come here, and I really can't offer them a place to sleep; and also, I sort of feel like the graduation isn't that big of a deal, since I'm already so involved in the next stage -- the bar exam, the job, etc. But somewhere deep down I wanted them to come. My wife knows me so well, and is so... how do you say this? She's so dedicated to doing the right thing for me? She's so in tune with what would make me happy, and so willing to do things to make me happy, that she got in touch with my family and invited them up. And now, it looks like, my mom and my dad and stepmother are all coming! It's very nice stuff.

The other thing is, we've put the house-hunting on hold, and are hoping to rent. We've found a place, and "applied" to get it, and were informed via email on Thursday that our application was "approved." But we still don't have a lease. Nothing is official, and we've learned that you can never trust anything that's not in writing. So we're waiting to get the lease. If it falls through for some reason, then we are FUCKED.

Finally, money is going to be the biggest problem it's ever been for us this summer, I think. Basically, this place we're renting is a palace, and it's very expensive. On top of which we're going to have the expense of moving, and we're going to have to furnish the place. We don't know for sure that we have any source of income between about May 15 and September 15. We've got savings, but those were really supposed to be for buying a house. So, honestly, I'm just not sure what we're going to do. W's boss is a douche, and won't tell her that he doesn't want her to work for him long distance, but keeps sending signals to that effect. So I feel like we can't count on that. I'll be studying for the bar, and won't have time to do a lot of income-producing work. I'll have to figure something out, though. Yee.

I had my last exam yesterday.

Heh heh heh heh heh.





Hm. Chortle.

Oh. Are you still here?

Do excuse me....

Ahem again. Yes. Ah. Anyway. What? You didn't say anything? Hm. Okay. Yes. Hi. Huh. I thought... well. Okay.

Anyway... oh boy. Shit. Damn. Well, okay. I guess I have to start thinking about other things now, huh. Like, I don't know, paying off my loans. Having somewhere to live. All that
fucking crap I've been putting off thinking about. Man. Is it me? It must be me. It sort of seems like there's never any opportunity to relax and enjoy something.

But right now, it's 9:45 and I haven't done shit today. I'm drinking coffee still. Reading blogs. I really need to do a few things. I need to check on my student loan deferment, and I need to figure out about whether I can take the bar class in Newark, just in case we aren't able to move to our new city in time. Also, I really
should call everybody in my family to say hi; and I need to mail them tickets to my graduation. And there's a little matter of finishing my part of the habeas petition I've been working on for my capital punishment clinic. Whew.

But first, I think I'll have some more coffee. Maybe catch up on talkingpoints, I've been out of the loop lately.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Why was I writing about an "eating plan"? What is an "eating plan"? Does a question mark go inside or outside the quotation marks? That has been plaguing me for years, actually. Maybe I'll try to figure it out right now, instead of working on my Crim Pro outline. (It's Saturday, the exam is on Monday, and I basically just started the shit.)


Okay, according to the first three results on Google, question marks in the scenario above go outside the quotes. Good for me. If they were part of the quoted text, like if I were saying:
  • He asked me, "What's your eating plan?"
...they'd go inside.

Problem solved, in about one minute, after worrying about it for years. Time to go back to studying.

Friday, April 27, 2007

You know that "eating plan" I just mentioned? That shit doesn't work at all. I just ate a huge pile of couscous because I was so hungry after having a pretzel at 2:00 and some cookies at 3:30.
Want to know my eating plan? Here's what I try to do (though I never succeed). I don't eat right away when I get up. Instead, I wait till like 10:30 or 11:00, and have a small breakfast, like a bagel or a bowl of cereal. This is supposed to tide me over until like 2:30 or 3:00. (As I write this, it's 12:57, and I'm starting to get hungry. So, just, take that into consideration too.) Then I have small lunch, like a piece of pizza or a half a sandwitch. This is supposed to tide me over until regular dinnertime, like 7:00 or thereabouts, at which time I eat a regular dinner. See, the idea is that it keeps me from eating too much or spending too much on food. I also keep some mints or something around to keep my blood sugar up when I need it; and of course I take advantage of every single opportunity for free food that presents itself. E.g., at my work, they have cookies every Friday in the afternoon. I tend to stock the fuck up.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Here's an email that I just composed to our realtor. It kind of sums up where things are right now as far as the whole house-hunting project. A couple things: I was actually trying to write in W's voice, because she's been corresponding w/ the agent, and I'd kind of like to limit emails from me to the very businesslike -- like, I'd only write if I were saying, "you're fired," or "we're taking you to court," or "we have to figure out how to fix this or else you're fired." But the message here is, "I'm upset and I'm trying to figure out whether you can help me" -- appealing to their emotions and desire to help a struggling young couple. Oh, another thing: I haven't sent it, not sure whether I will.

~+++ ~

Hi P,

Thank you for your frank reply. I appreciate it. I'm just trying to work through my feelings about everything that's happened here. I'm confused and dumbfounded, really, by what went on with [the house we were buying]. Every detail of it seems odd to me. Here's the rundown from our perspective -- keep in mind, we've never bought a house before and are 100 miles away, so it's all very foreign to us:
  • the seller's agent makes an offer to the buyer's agent orally; she does this, I assume, knowing that someone else is coming to look at the house that night. Why wouldn't she just wait a couple hours to see what the other prospective buyer did? If she, the seller's agent, didn't know someone was coming to look, that seems awfully weird too, particularly given that the seller was supposedly out of town, so he couldn't have arranged for the person to see the place. Anyway, presumably somebody knew this guy was coming to see the house, but they made us an offer anyway. Were they planning on backing out of any agreement we made if the other guy made a better offer? Please tell me that's considered unethical.
  • the buyer's agent, knowing that this seller has in the past made offers orally and later gone back on what she said (i.e., "oh, our offer of $395K wasn't really an offer, that was just the agent talking"), doesn't try to get this offer in writing ASAP. Why not? I gather from your email that, had we worked out the details and faxed something over right away, the seller's agent would have had to get the seller's signature that night. Why weren't we encouraged to work it out right away?
  • even though the offer is not in writing, the buyer's agent congratulates the clients on finally having a deal, despite knowing from experience that this seller had no compunction about going back on oral agreements.
  • then, the guy who looked at the place apparently unbeknownst to the agent makes a full price plus offer with no inspection contingency -- this despite the fact that the place is a hundred years old with an open sewer line in the basement and two salvaged wood beams holding up the kitchen. Why would anyone do that?
It just feels to me like something's not right. I have no idea what it is, but it all seems so weird. But whatever -- that's in the past. I'm just trying to make you understand why the whole thing bothered me so much, besides the fact that we were left with nowhere to live.

I suppose I shouldn't have used the word "serious" to describe our offers in my email. I didn't use the word in the sense of being "able to compete and win," obviously, since they weren't. I just meant to highlight that they weren't frivolous. Two were over 95% of asking price -- after you told us personally that we could expect to pay about 90% of asking -- and yes, the third was a sort of a hardball approach, but remember, it actually resulted in a deal. A deal that the sellers backed out on, but a deal nonetheless. If their offer had been in writing, it would have resulted in a sale.

I appreciate that you felt bad for us, and I know you mean it. The main reason we wanted to work with you -- even after you begrudgingly admitted to us that you actively try to hide the fact that you're also a teacher from your clients, and even after we realized that you guys didn't tell us up front you were selling a house in the neighborhood where we were looking to buy -- was that I really feel like we understand each other and get along. So I know you mean it when you say you feel bad. I guess I was surprised that, after all that had happened, you guys just seemed to fade away, stopped sending listings, didn't really express any regrets about what happened or offer to help out with the aftermath. It seems weird to me that there haven't been any listings, given the time of year, but I'm glad to know that that's the market, not you guys. At this point, we've done a lot of hustling to get rentals but are still struggling; we might ask for your help if that's something you think you can help with. One of us will be in touch with you in the next few days about that if we do need help.

Anyway, thanks again for your reply. I do hope you guys are doing well.


So that's it. I really just post it because it sums up some facts about our house-hunting situation and gives a clue as to the feelings that have been swirling around lately. We're really having a hard time, honestly.

UPDATE: So, I showed that email to W and she was like, "well, this obviously isn't my voice." We decided to send it, but I sent it from myself, not her. Hm. I wonder if that was a dumb move. The thing is, though, we're pretty much beyond all the fucking role playing at this point. They know us pretty well by now. I'm not fooling them anymore. So I might as well just let it all hang the fuck out.

I want to write this down before I forget.

So, as I've mentioned a few times, our friend L died a few weeks ago. I believe she committed suicide, but honestly I still don't know. Anyway, I had a dream about her that I don't want to forget. It was pretty incredible.

I dreamed that she wanted to die, and the way she arranged to do it was to have one of her friends shoot her. So all of her friends -- all the people who'd known her over the years -- gathered on this rooftop. She gave somebody a gun, and then she just sort of started baiting them, trying to get them pissed off enough that they'd be able to do it. It was all understood ahead of time what was supposed to happen. At some point, I ended up with the gun. I was standing there, and L was yelling at me, getting me more and more upset, and then she threw a cup of coffee on me. Instantaneously, without pausing or anything, I shot her in the head, point blank.

All of her friends then gathered her up and took her downstairs, to a bedroom somewhere inside the building, where we were going to sit with her as she slipped away. We sat around her, all looking at her, listening to her reflect on her life, for a long time. She was taking a very long time to die. Slowly, people began leaving the room one by one. They were getting tired of listening to her talk about herself, and they had other things they wanted to do. But I was the one who had shot her, I couldn't leave. It just wouldn't have been right. I sat with her for hours and hours more. Eventually it became clear that I hadn't delivered a fatal wound -- she wasn't going to die. But she did have this hole in the back of her head, and she was hurt pretty bad.

Well, that's basically the dream. At some point during the dream, I realized that L had finally gotten what she wanted: she was the center of attention, all eyes were on her, she was getting to talk about herself and everyone would listen. It was so sad when people started filtering out.

I don't know what else to say about this. I hope that you, dear reader, will understand. It's weird. Sad. I think this dream is full of commentary on, not just L, but on myself and my weaknesses. I often have dreams where someone is taunting me or mistreating me and I lash out violently and make them sorry. Obviously, this is something that never happens in real life, and I think I fantasize about it a little in my sleep. I think this dream had an element of that. But there's also an element of my feeling that I can never really make anything happen -- I can never "pull the trigger," as it were. So I shot L, but I didn't kill her. And then I was stuck in the mode of the killer sitting with his victim, for eternity it seems. And there was L as victim. That's the way she lived her life, and that's what she frequently was. So in this dream, despite having arranged the shooting herself, she is the victim. And there's the obvious comment on what happened in reality -- something that W pointed out to me -- everyone had written her off, but when she died, there they were at her memorial. Giving her the love and attention she'd wanted all her life. Oh, but it was so sad in that dream when they tired of her again and started leaving the room.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fucking momentous.

I just finished my last law school class... ever.

Fuck yes.

I am sitting, alone as I am wont to do, in the bar near school. Dark as hell in this motherfucker, like I like it. It's a beautiful evening outside (it's about 8:45) but at the moment this is where I want to be. In a cave, alone, anonymous. Listening to music and getting a little tips... A Guinness and a Maker's on the rocks. This place plays good music almost all the time. Right now it's Peter Tosh singing "I-man are the bush doctor...." And it's nice that they have wireless. And there's an old Clint Eastwood western showing (no sound of course).

New song. Now it's "Come on Eileen." This is one of those songs that I used to like, like really love, back in the days that I went out dancing. It's still a good song, but it's a little played for me now.

But damn! There's a table of loud people back here. It's just me and this one other table -- a total of four other people -- back here, and I can barely hear the music. The guy was just stomping his foot because he was laughing so hard! Maybe one day something will be funny enough to me that I'll want to stomp my foot, but that day has yet to come.

New song. "Rock This Town" by the Stray Cats. No Peter Tosh, but not bad.

Dude -- the stomping guy just leapt out of his seat out of excitement. He's sitting again now. Still
yelling, though.

No way -- new song: "Jump in the Line" (or whatever it's really called) by Harry Belafonte. "Okay! I believe you!"

Dude!!!! My man is screaming. Literally -- you know what "screaming" means? Where your voice gets high and breaks a lot? That's what he's doing. Seems like this one guy is the whole reason for the loudness.

New song. This one is still, like, basically good, but it seems like the trend is downward... "Hungry Like the Wolf."

Ai ai ai. So many god damn things to worry about. I called W to tell her I was going to grab a drink before I came home. Our conversation inevitably turned to the various things we "aren't going to worry about right now" -- in other words, all the things we really have to worry about, but are going to try to put out of our minds for the evening. Here's the list: (1) we don't have a place to live in our new city. (2) We don't have any real source of money starting in about a week. (3) We are ...

just wanted to note, my man just stood up and stomped his foot... he's still standing, out of sheer excitement...

...anyway, number three was that, while we're hoping to buy a house, it seems that all the houses that have been languishing on the market are now under contract, and no new places are going up. Well. Personally, I'm resigned to the fact that we're renting for the near future. So what's happening now is that supply is declining -- and demand is probably increasing due to the time of year. So things are not looking good for buyers in the current, say, three-month period. But that doesn't mean that it will be terrible for us in a few months.

That said, of course, it really does look like prices are steadily increasing in the neighborhood we're interested in. And interest rates are going up too. So shit does not exactly scream, "just wait!"

Whatever. Can't fight reality. We will do our best. We have submitted an application to rent a place. If we get this place, it will be the shit -- it's hands down nicer than any place we've ever lived, with the exception that the neighborhood is a bit weird. Not scary -- not at all -- more, touristy. It's right next to the big museum in town. But anyway, my point is, maybe we can stay in this place for a little while, and simultaneously look for our dream house -- a Victorian somewhere in the not-too-distant suburbs. I'm sure W won't love that idea, in that it entails waiting. I don't blame her one bit for that -- she's been waiting a long fucking time. But it might be the right thing to do.

And -- among the things that we're not worrying about tonight -- it's far from a given that we'll get this place. We've submitted an application, which shows that we don't have any income to speak of at the moment; the place is very pricey. We'll see what goes down. If we don't get the place, we'll have a lot more worries.

Meanwhile, the loud table has left. The music has changed, and frankly it's bee a bit hit or miss. I think it's the Police right now, not sure. I told myself I'd order another drink if the waitress came over, and she has been pointedly ignoring me. Maybe it has to do with the way I'm back here in the shadows looking shady. But I suppose this is the good lord's way of telling me to go home to my wife.

For the record, by the way: when I do this, I always get one beer and one whiskey, and then head home. Because of tonight's special circumstances, I was considering having something extra -- a little celebration, you know. But it's not to be.

Ooh, it's "Hey Jude" now.

See you later.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I've been through a lot personally since I last posted. I don't have the time to go into it all here. But here's a quick summary: W, after the episode I described a few days ago, fell into a horrible depression -- literally staying in bed for three or four days, with the curtains closed, and taking pills like they were cough drops and drinking. It was nuts. She began slowly coming out of it on Sunday, I think. Then I had another meltdown, this time of a different variety: I was washing the dishes, and W made her way out of bed and came into the kitchen and hugged me. This was a very good thing, a wonderful gesture. She was quietly crying -- but she'd been crying at different volumes for days on end, so really that meant very little. But then I started sobbing a little. I tried to hold it back, because I want W to know -- or I guess I should say I want her to think -- that I'm okay, I'm in control, I'm taking care of things. She can freak out, and I'll still be strong and holding shit down. But I was completely incapable of holding my tears in, and then I just started crying like CRAZY. I don't know if I've ever cried like that before. I kept saying "oh my god, oh my god, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." I didn't want to cry in front of her, and I realized that I was so sorry that things weren't working out. I just felt like, I have FUCKED UP YET AGAIN. I've failed my wife -- again. I put her through three years of waiting, put us so deep in debt I can't even think about it, and now when it's time for her payoff, I can't give it to her. And I cried for like twenty minutes, or more. I made my way to the bed, and was lying in the fetal position with my hands over my eyes, just sobbing. And W was comforting me, and telling me that it was all okay with her, and that she loved me.

Now, this is what I wanted to post about. I realized, thinking about this episode and its effect on W, something. I know she doesn't want a man who is vulnerable and needs taking care of (at least I'm pretty sure) -- she wants the guy I was trying to be, who will be strong and handle things, and take care of her and pamper her. But I think it is good for her when I show her my vulnerability. Because she pulled herself out of her horrible depression, to be strong for me. And ever since, she's been coping. Don't get me wrong, she still cries on the daily and breaks into bitter tirades about how horrible things are. And actually, the day following my meltdown she went even further than ever before, telling me that she seriously wanted to commit suicide. That's something I can't forget or ignore. She came to me, as if she wanted to propose this idea to me -- what if I killed myself? Everything would be so much better for everybody, she said. I sat with her, for hours -- basically all day -- and held her, and told her how much I needed her, and told her everything I could think of -- that I would be furious with her, that I would be completely helpless and lost without her, that I love her and need her in my life. And eventually she came out of that too. I have to remember this though. That's not the kind of thing that just goes away. She will raise that again some time, and I'll have to be ready.

Anyway -- having reminded myself of the timing of that episode, maybe I need to rethink my idea about how it's good for her when I am vulnerable. But the point is, I want to write this idea down so I don't forget about it, and so I can build on it if it makes sense to do so.

UPDATE: this is a few weeks later. I've been thinking about this. It seems completely crazy for me to say that she reacted to my breakdown by being strong and coping, when the following day she actually told me she was planning to commit suicide. But for some reason, it still seems true. I can't quite figure it out. Possibly -- and listen, this is so fucked up sounding -- possibly she said that to me to sort of even things out between us. I'm sort of picturing a scale here, you know, two pans. She had been very far down for days. When one of us is down, the other one goes up, to balance the other out, and to be able to take care of the other. Then I abruptly plummetted, and she went straight up. But her position, being up, didn't reflect reality at all: she was feeling absolutely horrible, and that fact didn't in itself change. Some part of her knew that I couldn't be allowed to languish at the bottom, because she needed me too; so I wonder whether she came to me saying the awful things she said as a way of evening out the scales between us. I sound like I'm accusing her of some horrible manipulation, but I'm not. I don't suggest she did this consciously at all; I just think this is the way our relationship works. I mean, I'm actually saying she has intuitively learned the lesson that I was just figuring out when I first wrote this post -- that by showing vulnerability one of us can be the catalyst for the other's recovery.

Something else that I'm not suggesting is that she was somehow lying to me when she said those things. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that she was feeling the horrible things she said she was feeling. But I think she came and sort of presented them to me as a way of saying, "look at me, I need your help, I need you to be there for me." And that's exactly what I did. And the fascinating thing is that we've both been coping ever since. Barely. Just barely. But we've been coping. And she's been strong for me.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

i have made everything 100,000 times worse
I just want ot apologie to her and tell her i'll leave and she can be alone here. and that i love her and that i'm her friend and i'll take care of her and that i would never do that. and that she's not alone. i love her.

but here's the thing: after something blows up -- after an arguemtn, or even a particularly tense conversation -- i have a tendency to balme myself and get all caught up inside my head worrying about what i did. I mean, this even happens when a conversation wasn't tense, when i it just occurs to me that maybe something I said was rude or offensieve. so am i doing that now? and it always makes things worse when i try to apologize, etc. if I do that, apologize, basically beg her to forgive me and tell her i'll do anything, if i do that, will it make things worse?
I don't know how to put into words what has just happened to me. I am at such a complete loss about what to do that I'm writing it down. Because I don't know what else to do. I am sitting here in my apartment alone, because my wife has just left. I really don't know what to do.

Here's what happened. I came home early from work because we received the upsetting news that we aren't getting the house we thought we were getting. I knew my wife was very upset. She gets upset about unexpected things. Not that it's weird to be upset about losing this house, but she really feels like renting for a few more months would be the end of the world. So I knew how upset she was, because this means we almost definitely hafe to rent. And it means we got fucked be people. So I came home. I found her lying in bed with a hooded sweatshirt on, all the curtains closed, lights out, dozing. I saw that she had smoked some pot, something that she almost never does anymore. She asked me for some water, and when I brought it to her I saw that her arms were limp - she almost dropped the water in the bed. I asked her what drugs she'd taken, she told me she'd taken a xanax, a valium, and an ambien, and had smoked some pot. I don't know when she took those things. She was able to talk and walk around, and after a couple hours she seemed basically like herself, except herself in one of her horrible mooeds. We started talking, and as we always do when she's upset, we started arguing. She wanted to post a message on craigslist saying "this realtor is guilty of being unscrupulous and outright lying." I told her not to do that, and we argued, because she thought I wasn't upset and I was advocating letting these people get away with fucking us somehow. She said "your such a... never mind." I asked her what she meant, and of course she wouldn't tell me. A classic, CLASSIC trick to get someone riled up. And I fell for it. I got really upset. I am going out of my mind here about the house too, and more importantly about how W is taking the whole thing. I mean really out of my mind. Finally I suggested that she get in touch with her mom's friends who are realtors to ask them what we should do. And at this point, I honestly don't remember what happened. I remember that she said something sarcastic and mean to me, and the next thing I remember I was sort of on top of her shouting, "LOOK AT ME!!!!! LOOK AT ME!!!!!!!" and saying "don't... you... dare!!!!!" Meaning, I think, don't you dare talk to me that way. She closed her eyes and wouldn't look at me. I tried to pull her eyes open with my hands. I have never lost it like this before, ever. And now, she's gone. She left. She tried to get me to leave and I said no. She said she didn't want to be in the same house as me because she was afraid. I told her I would never hurt her. And after 11 years together, this is the most physical it's ever gotten, and she must know that I would never hurt her. Never. NEVER, EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVERF EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER VE ER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EV ER EVER EVE ER EVE R........................................ I WOULD NEVER. She said she wasn't sure she believed me. And she started packing a bag to leave. Then she decided she was too high to drive. But I wouldn't leave. And so then she stalked out of the apartment. I thougth she was just going to go for a walk to cool down, but I think the car is gone. She doesn't have her phone with her. I have no way to contact her to tell her I'm sorry and that I'll leave of she'll just come home. And she might hurt herself out there. And I think she brought a couple bottles of pills with her. I don't know anything could happen. And I'm just sitting here. And I can never fix this. Never never never never. And this is going to become what she thinkgs of.... when she thinks about moving, or when she tinks about our realtors, or when she thinks about the city we're moving to.. The whole time I'm typing this I'm not looking at the screen because I'm looking out teh window to see if she or the car come by.


I am .. there's no words for hwo I feel. It's more than upset. It's more than really really upset. I am out of my head. But I want to try to get mseyfl straighened out here. Like, what can I do? I don't know when she left, but maybe a half hour ago or so. Maybe a little more. I obviously can't call the police. She doesn't have any friends in this city who are still in town. And she doesn't have her phone, so she can't call anyone. She might go... who knows where. I really don't kow if I can predict what is going to happen now. There's a pretty good chance she'll drive around for a couple hours and then come back. But I don't know how much satisfaction she's going to get frmo driving around new york city. which means she'll get on the highway. she is going to get stuck in traffic. it's rush hour. it's possible that she will go to a motel somewhere in jersey or something. She said a number o ftimes that she was going to her parents' place, but she didn't bring her overnight bag with her, and she doesn't have her phone. it's not unlikely that she will try to go to her parts' place. if she does that, she'll be on the road for, i don't know... it's a six hour drive or so, I guess, but it's rush hour so it'll take seven or eight hours I think. Seven hours from now is 2 a.m. With all those prescription drugs and pot in her system, she won't be driving for that long. Without her phone, she migh stop at a motel in jersey.

she also might drive to e & k's house in rural NY state. but she probably doens't know the way there. so

i dn't know what the fuck to do.
...and just like that...

The sellers of the house we were on the verge of buying got a full price offer last night, before signing our offer. So yet another house has been torn out from under us. Now, we are truly fucked. FUCKED. I wrote an email to our agent saying something like "this can't be legal -- we had a binding agreement, i.e. offer and acceptance." I assume that argument won't fly, what with the fact that we can't afford and don't want to take them to court, and the fact that we'd probably lose anyway under the statute of frauds. I feel like dying, and I know someone else who feels that way about 100 times more strongly than I do. She is crushed.

And, just generally, we're absolutely screwed. Where are we going to live?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So our friend L died last week.

I don't know. I wanted to note this. I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to discuss the fact that all of our friends, people I haven't been in touch with in years, seem to have been thinking about her last week just by chance. I wanted to think a little bit about death. And about the meaning of Easter, and of Passover. She was at home with her family, apparently, for Passover. She was not doing well -- this is all information I got from an email that wasn't even sent to me, it was forwarded, accidentally I think. But she was apparently not doing well at all. L was a heroin addict. Last time I saw her she was coming from a methadone clinic. She was trying to get better, but that was many years ago. God knows what has happened in the interim. She never, never, never had any peace in her life. She was constantly struggling against loneliness and sadness and an obvious sense that she needed to fight for love. And this year, at Passover, she was not doing well, and she asked her parents if she could stay with them for a while. They said no. I'm sure that was not easy for them to do -- I think she probably worked their nerves to no end, and more importantly I think they probably believed it was best for her to not have the safety net. She had to learn to take care of herself. So they told their own daughter, the junkie, to go figure it out on her own. Here's what that email says:

"She asked her parents if she could stay for a while and they said no. While it seems like this really wasnt planned, when they went into her place she was in bed and it was messy, and we all know that if L were planning this it would have been neat there would have been a well crafted letter, but anyway, she does seem to have known that she wasnt doing well. But then again, L hadnt been doing well for so long."

I don't really know what this means. I'm not sure who "they" are, and I'm not sure why they went into her place. I don't know exactly what it means to say she "wasn't doing well." I can't tell whether this describes a suicide, an OD, or something else.

I wanted to write about all this, and write about the unbelievably complicated feelings that this raises in those of us who knew her, loved her briefly, and then wrote her off. And I wanted to take a moment to think about her, who she was, why we loved her, why we hated her. All the incredible things she brought to the world. And she really brought a lot. And I wanted to use this as an opportunity to think about the possibility of some sort of hope, of rebirth, you know, of metaphorical resurrection. But I don't have the time. I have to go. I'm going to be late.
I'm at school, sitting in one of the very public study areas. It's quiet. It's almost exam time, so people are seriously working. I have just had a fucked up series of days (what else is new). Just swamped with work. W and I took an impromptu trip yesterday to look at another batch of houses. We just felt we had to, because time is now ridiculously short if we really want to buy a house before the summer. So I haven't had any time to myself at all. And I haven't been sleeping well, on top of cutting my slumber short so I can get some work done in the mornings. And finally, a friend from college -- someone I really loved for a short while, but who was just too troubled to maintain a friendship with -- died last week unexpectedly. Probably an overdose, maybe suicide.

And today, I've been running around trying to get my shit together to finish my application for the bar exam before the deadline (which is four days away now). But it's tax season, so the post office is just not useable in any way. Finally I resolved to do it tomorrow, at a time of day when people are less likely to be in the PO. And I settled down to do some work in this study area.

My phone rang after I'd been here for about three minutes. It was our realtor, telling us that the seller of a house we've been wrangling over for just under a month now has made us an offer that's within our range of acceptability. We told him to take the offer.

So now I'm sitting here. W is at home, she's been freaking out for days now. I have class in 45 minutes, and I just can't miss another one. So I have this weird dead space, sitting in this room with a bunch of strangers. I am about to lose my shit, I think. I have to keep my head about me. Tomorrow I have to start negotiating with mortgage lenders to get us a good mortgage. I have to figure out about housing insurance. We have to make an appointment with an inspector -- W has promised to handle that. We have to talk to our parents about getting a bigger gift than the one they've promised us. And we have to talk to the sellers -- these people who've been dicking us around for a month now, and are no doubt infuriated with us -- about letting us move in before the close. All this on top of starting and finishing a 30-page paper; preparing for exams; working on a habeas corpus petition for a death row inmate; doing paid work for my job; getting my bar exam application together; figuring out about consolidating my private student loans; dealing with my student loan differment; and possibly, just possibly, enjoying the fact that I'm graduating from law school.

This is a very positive thing. This is a very positive thing. I am happy. I am happy. Don't freak out, idiot.

Okay... I just emailed W a message in all caps with lots of exclamation points about how exciting this is. That got my mood up. It is incredibly good news. ... She just called, and I reminded her what good news this is. That brought both of our moods up -- we were both focusing on the scariness ahead.

HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Alright. It's important that I write about this, because I really don't want to forget about it. This is like one of the most important things that I want to remember.

It's the fact that W and I have had some great friends here in NY. I'm not a real friend-having type dude. I don't get close with people, basically ever. (I used to, but something happened along the way. It's pretty sad, really.) And yet, I love our friends. I have to write about them, because we're leaving, and we probably won't see much of them.

So this past weekend, we went with our friends M and K to semi-rural NY state to visit E and K (this is going to be confusing -- two K's). E and K just moved out there a couple weeks ago. We brought our dog, and M and K brought theirs. We chilled in the back yard -- the weather was perfect until the sun went down, when it got pretty cold -- and grilled up an enormous feast of meats. K (of E and K) really likes to prepare insane meat dishes for us. It was delicious. And we played Bacci out there. I am not any good, by any stretch of the imagination, at anything that requires any level of coordination. And I'm inclined to not want to put my badness on display. Call me crazy, being humiliated isn't one of my fave raves. In fact it's on my "pan" list. Anyway, I participated in the Bacci game and goddammit I had a good time. The whole vibe, all weekend, was just fun. After dark we went inside and played poker. Of course there was lots of beer. D curled up on the couch next to K (of E and K), who doesn't like dogs.

And an account of the weekend would be only half done without mentioning E and K's 17-month old son, I. He is ridiculous. The best, cutest little kid you ever saw. He's a ham. He's gotten lots of adult attention all his life, and he just loves to look around the room and smile at people.

The sweetest moment of the weekend probably came on Sunday morning when I (the kid, not me) was tottering around the house looking for things to get into, and D (our dog -- it's getting confusing) was lying all stretched out on her belly. She's not known for her self-control, and she gets very excited around kids. But she lay there, wagging her tail, and just hoping he'd come over to her. When he did, she just looked at him until he got close enough for her to reach out and give him a couple little kisses on the nose. Then she left him alone, but just watched him and wagged. It was something to behold.
Just finished my reading for a while. Feels good. I'm drinking a beer to celebrate. (I'm also drinking because I started slipping into a loop of anxiety earlier today when I realized how little time we have left. I'm freaked.) Also to celebrate, I just took out the guitar. I sounded truly awful. But I found myself playing the song, "The Golden Vanity," an amazingly beautiful song about a ship sailing on the "lowland sea." The crew fear they're going to be overtaken by the "Spanish enemy." But a brave cabin boy steps forward and says to the captain of the ship: "what would you give to me if I swam alongside of the Spanish enemy and sank her in the lowland sea?" The captain promises him riches -- and the hand of his daughter. That's good enough for the cabin boy, and he jumps overboard, swims alongside of the enemy ship, and bores three holes in her side with his auger. She sinks. He swims back to his ship, but the captain won't help him out of the water -- he regrets his promise. Finally, the boy makes it around to the port side, where his messmates are. They pull him up, but it's too late: he dies on the deck. His messmates stitch his body in the hammock, and lower it overboard, where it drifts with the tide before sinking.

I wish I could write story-songs. And there's something about that song and story... For some reason, the tragedy of it is so human, so recognizable. It just feels like something you've seen in your life before, somehow. I was thinking while I was singing that a younger me probably found great significance in the class dimension of the story: the captain of the ship on one side of the boat, the messmates on the other; the captain letting the boy, wh's just saved his life, sink into the lowland sea. I'm sure there's a lot of truth to that, if I'm receptive to it. But this time, it was something else about the story that was hitting me, I think it had to do with the futility of the boy's heroism, and the sense that, in the end, there was nothing anyone could do about the tragedy. The messmates pull him up, and he dies. The sew his body up, and they let it drift on the ocean. There's something about the last couple lines:

His messmates pulled him up, but on the deck he died
And they stitched him in the hammock, which was so fairly wide.
They lowered him overboard, but he drifted with the tide
And he sank into the lowland sea.

The word "but" in that second to last line -- I might have added that myself at some point unintentionally, I haven't heard anyone but myself sing this song in well over ten years -- anyway, it just adds so much pathos. They lowered him overboard, hoping, I guess, that his body would just sink and he'd have some peace. But instead, he drifted with the tide. No one could do anything about it -- he was buffetted by circumstances even in death. And his messmates had to just watch from the ship as his poor body, stitched in the hammock, drifted. I mean, that's some incredible shit.

And it's interesting to think that the word "but" might have just crept in accidentally at some point, and yet I can find so much significance in it now. I often think about how art might or might not have some intended meaning, but the person experiencing it frequently finds some personal meaning in it. It isn't necessarily the meaning its creator intended, if indeed any meaning really was intended. But it can be so significant, regardless. And once you realize this -- that a song can have truth in it that no one ever put there -- you're actually able to start finding that kind of meaning elsewhere, in things that definitely don't have an intended meaning. The sound of leaves brushing against each other when the wind blows, or the way a pearl gradually grows over something abrasive that's accidentally made its way into an oyster shell.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

I had a dream last night where the following dialogue happened:

Random dream character: "Would you ever work for a science?"
Me: "What do you mean, become a scientist?"
RDC: "No, I mean the company -- Ascience."

I think this is interesting. I misunderstood a word in my own dream. Isn't that somewhat odd? I mean, the sleeping me was creating the whole dream conversation, right? So why would I (and by "I" I refer to either the sleeping me or the dream character 'me') not understand a word in that conversation? I'm sure it tells us something about the way dreams work, but I'm not sure just what.
This really is pretty messed up.

They pick up a guy, isolate him, and beat him. Then they say "okay, we'll stop beating you if you say we never beat you."

This is the U.S. government we're talking about.

This is part of the reason I've never understood why we tolerate plea bargains. Don't they encourage people to make false confessions out of fear of what will happen if they don't say what the government wants? The only convincing argument I've heard in their favor is that, whether we officially sanction them or not, they'll happen -- so we might as well make it official so we can keep an eye on them.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Guess I ought to note that we bid on another house and lost it. It's getting depressing, and I'm starting to get pretty worried that competition for those houses is stiffening, and we're going to have an even harder time of finding a place. Plus, I'm scared that we won't be able to make the monthly payments and continue to save cash. But I think that last part is wrong. I'm a worrier.

Also, the seller of the house that we lost before this one called our realtor back and said they wanted to "meet us halfway" -- but arbitrarily upped their previous offer by $5K (from $395K to $400K) thus upping the halfway point $2.5K (from $387.5 to $390). That amount of money is basically meaningless in this context, which is why the move is so infuriating. Why bother trying to "outsmart" us like that for a .7% increase in your payday?

I know I'm not supposed to let my feelings get involved, and I wouldn't if I really wanted this place anymore. But we went back and looked at it again -- after making our "final" offer, when we were reconsidering -- and it's really not that great of a place. It's been rehabbed, but the style is truly tacky, and the workmanship is questionable at best. There's this ugly granite tile on the kitchen floor, and it's not flat. That's the main example.

Our realtor advised us that we could make our offer contingent on the seller's fixing the things we don't like. But W and I talked about it, and, having dealt with this idiot, we have absolutely zero faith that he'd make any effort to do a good job. He'd no doubt try to fool with us. A better option would be to tell him we've figured out how much the changes we want would cost, and we'd like the price reduced by that amount. Of course, I'm certain he wouldn't go for that, since he's so unwilling to budge on the price as it is.

Anyway, all that's going on. When we found out we lost this last place, I had a sort of private, quiet freakout. I couldn't handle reality, and got pretty drunk every day for a few days. I'm sort of still in that mode, but handling it a little differently -- I've just kind of stopped thinking about the house-buying thing. But now that I'm doing this post, I'm all upset again, and I think I'm going to get a drink after work.
Hah. I haven't posted here in days. It's funny. This blog has actually existed since... 2002? Or maybe it's '03. But anyway, it's been a long fucking time. And every once in a while -- maybe once a year -- I come up with some purpose I'd like it to serve, and then I do a few posts and forget about it again. This may be another example of that. I'd like to believe it isn't, and that this time will be different, because this really doesn't involve any effort on my part at all: I'm not trying to impress anybody, and most of what I write is basically stream of consciousness. By continually emphasizing the fact that I don't think anyone's going to read this, I'm probably on some level trying to convince myself that there's no risk involved in writing these posts.

I do keep thinking of things I want to post here. But actually I'm walking something of a fine line. I'd really like to maintain enough anonymity that, if I do feel like writing about something horribly embarrassing or extra private, I can feel free to do that. Like, what if I get a crush on a girl and I want to talk about that? I'm a married man! I actually really do believe that having crushes on people is just part of life, and it's going to happen. I've accepted that W will have them, I think... It came up once, I can't remember the context, and I really didn't feel any compunction about saying "I understand you'll have crushes, just as long as you're not unfaithful." Oh, but here's another example, maybe a more realistic one: what if W is really annoying me? Can I write about that? It happens sometimes, believe it or not. Or what if I want to say "I made a little schedule for myself today, and I blocked out 20 minutes for jerking off?" (Not that I did. Or would. I actually don't jerk off, never have. I think it's disgusting.)

What's hysterical is that I'm posting this from work. I'm sure that, if they wanted to, anyone could look at what I'm writing. So guys, for the record? I'm kind of sitting on my hands today -- haven't had any assignments. Don't want to go chasing after them b/c I've been told that I'm going to get one soon.

Ah me.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I just took out my guitar -- probably for the first time in months -- and started noodling around. I found myself playing this song, that I wrote when I was 21 or 22, I think. So ten years ago at least. It's about some of the same stuff that's been a major subject of this little diary: how time passes, and things change. I think this is one of the biggest mysteries, shall we say, of life. "Mystery" might not be the right word, but I don't know what is.

Too many days have passed,
Too much has been lost.
A lot of things are different now,
At such a cost.

Nothing is for sure;
You never know what might change.
Nothing works out in the end --
And nothing stays the same.

Too many days have passed.
Time goes by so fast.
No, this will not last.
Nothing works out in the end -- too many days have passed.

Reading them written down, they seem so simplistic. I'm no, I don't know, Donald Fagan. But I do think they capture something. Every moment is fleeting. It's here and then it's gone, and it will never come back. And in the end -- at the risk of some high melodrama -- you die. Nothing works out in the end; in the end, everything you ever did, ever cared about, ever worked for, ever enjoyed, ever hated, is just gone. And even before that, each moment, each hour, each year, you lose your past, and it's never coming back. It's a pretty incredible thing about life. When I wrote this song, I was singing to an ex-girlfriend; our relationship had been over for years, and our lives had just trucked on. We had really cared about each other. I wrote this song when I realized that, well, it was over. That relationship was gone forever, no matter how much I cared for the girl. I wasn't exactly wishing I could have her back or anything; I was just thinking about how, no matter what happened, our lives had changed and that was behind me, behind us.

Now that I'm writing about this, it makes me think of a stanza from another song I wrote, another one I found myself singing just now. This one was also about a relationship that had fallen apart (although it subsequenly came back together, and the woman is now my wife). The lines are

My faith and my pride, and all the tears that I cried,
Were all lost for good when you said goodbye.

I found it very profound, the day I wrote that, that when you cry you lose those tears forever. They're part of your body; they come out of our eyes and roll down your cheeks, and they're gone. They're never coming back. I mean, the same can be said for, say, sweat, or fingernails, or dandruff, or hair, or hangnails, or probably every other part of your body. But there's something about the fact that, your natural emotional reaction to losing something includes shedding a part of yourself. And it's a nice parallel to the things you lose emotionally -- namely, in this case, your faith and pride.

Well, I'm sure I'm thinking about this because my life is on the edge of some major changes. I'm going to leave New York; I'm going to leave our friends here; I'm going to cease being a student and a bohemian type who lives in a shithole apartment and become an adult with a well-paying job who lives in a nice house. So I'm feeling this stuff about time rolling on, and things changing, and saying goodbye to the past, very acutely. But part of what's so incredible about it is that it's constantly going on. I sang another of my old songs today, and I was brought back to the time I wrote it. It must have been spring, because I was sitting outside at this little (really little, I don't think it had any indoor seating at all) coffee place at Houston and 1st or 2nd Ave. I was a young-ass motherfucker. I worked at a little record label. Everything, everything was different. I lived in an even smaller shithole. I drank constantly; I probably smoked most of the time too. I had long hair. I thought I was hot shit. (I wasn't.) I played music all the time. And I was somewhat rawer, emotionally. Or at least I was more interested in accessing my tragic side, the side of me that's blown away by the mysteries, pleasures, and pains of life and the world. It's the side that I associate with my mother. The part of me that believes crying is good, and being bowled over by something beautiful -- just taken down completely by something that you can't put into words -- is the goal in life. I always remember my mother crying when she put on a CD of Carmen. At the time, I was annoyed, frankly. But part of me felt like, now that is experiencing life. Just allowing it to stop you in your tracks altogether. Today, there's a big part of me that's skeptical of that -- I think my mother cries a lot of the time because she's not sure how else to handle things. I think it's a bit of a crutch: she can never actually do anything, and she can say it's because she's just such a raw nerve, so sensitive. Still, there's part of me that still wants to live like that. I've put lines in my songs about this too -- there's a line that says "my eyes will never be / dry, it's heavenly." That line is about this feeling. In that song, actually, the tears signify love and music -- a love song, really.

Anyway, back then, I was closer to that side of myself. Now I'm more practical, more grown-up. More boring. But I have to be, I have a responsibility to my wife. I have to keep my head on my shoulders, and I have to be willing to do things, and not let the beauty and pain of life stop me in my tracks.