Critical condition

This is too funny not to post in its entirety. From Dana Milbank:

Ever since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the coming months have always been crucial and critical:

“You only have about the next six months.”
Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. (D-Del.), Nov. 21, 2005

“We’ve got, I think, six months.”
Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), Nov. 17, 2005

“This is a critical time in Iraq.”
National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, Nov. 10, 2005

“We are entering a make-or-break six-month period.”
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Oct. 26, 2005

“The developments over the next several months will be critical.”
Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, Oct. 5, 2005

“The next months will be critical.”
U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton, Aug. 4, 2005

“I think the next 18 months are crucial.”
Retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, July 18, 2005

“I think the next nine months are critical.”
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, June 29, 2005

“I will say unequivocally today that what the administration does in these next few days will decide the outcome of Iraq.”
Kerry, Jan. 30, 2005

“The next few months will be critical.”
Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), July 22, 2004

“Iraq now faces a critical moment.”
President Bush, May 24, 2004

“The next six to seven months are critical.”
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Dec. 1, 2003

“The next three-to-six months will be critical.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sept. 10, 2003

“We may be going through a series of weeks and months that are crucial.”
Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), July 10, 2003

“I think the next few months will be crucial.”
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), July 3, 2003

And the rain rain rain came down down down

And with that, the rainy season began.
Yeah, it’s rained a couple of times since I moved here in May, but always a very short little drizzle. Tonight, it’s raining for real.
Still, it’s not really cold, around 55°, so there’s still little Christmasy weather in the offing. But it does give me a good excuse to a) check my gutters, and b) make some hot chocolate — maybe the creme brulee vanilla chocolate that Sara sent in a housewarming care package. Yum!

You know there’s a metaphor here somewhere

You can make up your own joke bashing Bush’s Supreme Court picks and working in this little tidbit:

A basketball-sized piece of marble moulding fell from the facade over the entrance to the Supreme Court, landing on the steps near visitors waiting to enter the building.

No one was injured when the stone fell. The marble was part of the dentil moulding that serves as a frame for the frieze of statues atop the court’s main entrance.

A group of visitors had just entered the building and had passed under the frieze when the stone fell at 9:30 a.m. EST.

Jonathan Fink, a government attorney waiting in line to attend arguments, said, “All of a sudden, these blocks started falling. It was like a thud, thud.”

Merry Merry Mary

Unlike retailers, I tend to wait until after Thanksgiving before thinking about Christmas. So, here we are — Thanksgiving has come and gone, I’m beginning to put together my shopping list… and starting to think about decorations.
I don’t really think a Christmas tree is in order — first off, I live alone and never really have visitors. Second, I will be back in DC at Christmas, so it’s not like I will be sitting around the tree opening gifts. So, this year at least, no tree.
I’m thinking a simple wreath and some candles in the windows will do it, although the lack of snow and temps in the 50s and 60s will throw me off a bit.
When do you usually start to decorate for the holidays?

Just call me Mary

I’ve spent the day doing nothing, aside from washing a load of dishes. It’s been a lazy end-of-the-holiday, just hanging out watching re-runs of Match Game ’74.
I had scheduled a housewarming/open house yesterday, and invited a bunch of the neighbors. Sadly, none of them showed up. This is, of course, a common occurrence for me, so I shrugged it off and looked on the bright side: I now have 9 bottles of wine stashed away for the future.
I don’t know why people never show up for my parties. People call me Mary Richards when they hear of my horrific party luck; since I never really watched much Mary Tyler Moore, I’m assuming that she had the same luck.
Oh, well. I still have meatballs and petite quiche left, along with wine and beer and chips. I’ll be partying myself for a few weeks, eh?

Not forgotten

Today I got an email about one of those websites that tracks people you went to school with; it was a page for the Jefferson class of 1985, and of course I started poking around to see who was listed.
And there was a listing for Thomas Traband.
Thomas and I never got along, really, in school. But after we graduated, Thomas and I became close friends and roommates. I looked after him, he looked after me. For a long time, we were inseparable, and even though nothing ever “happened” between us, really, it was not a typical buddy relationship.
I won’t go into detail about our relationship because it is too convoluted and confusing. But like many close relationships, something happened that broke it apart. He stepped out of my life for a little while, got married under somewhat hasty and unusual circumstances–albeit to a very nice girl, and had a daughter.
About a week before my birthday in 1994, he fell asleep behind the wheel. He had always tended to nod off while we were on road trips to the beach, but I never expected the worst: he was killed.
I have spent time in the last 11 years — has it really been that long? — thinking of Thomas, wondering what would have happened to our relationship if he had lived and I had officially come out to him. Wondering what kinds of things were going on in his head, what he took away from our relationship or what scared him away from it, and what path his life would have taken.
When I started packing to move here, I found a box filled with letters he wrote me from Korea; fifteen years ago he decided to join the Army for reasons that still aren’t really clear to me. Against my better judgement, I started reading the letters, getting more and more emotional with every page. Today, after fifteen years of experience and a little wisdom, I can see what they really say; I wish that we were able to say things to each other instead of hinting and writing stories and using proxies to express our emotions.
I miss him terribly, and have integrated his memory into my life so completely that I don’t even realize it anymore — my computer password since his death has been a word that appeared in those letters from Korea. I often think about changing my password because it’s been in use for so long; but giving it up would be like giving up his memory.

Buy Nothing Day

Today is “Buy Nothing Day,” designed to highlight how all-emcompassing our consumer culture really is. And I intend to observe it — after all, I’ve been on a buying binge for a few weeks now. So today, nothing. Not a magazine or cup of coffee or major appliance.
Of course, the fact that it falls on “Black Friday” really is wonderful, because there’s nothing so horrifying to me than to go shopping on the one day when everyone else goes shopping.
I can’t really understand why everyone goes shopping today, when they know that the crowds will be insane, the parking non-existent, and the prices will not be any better than the prices closer to Christmas.
Anyway, I’m going to do all my shopping online this year, since it all has to be shipped back east.
So, to sum up: no purchasing anything today. This is a day to stay home alone after a day surrounded by people. A day to relax. And balance my checkbook.

Take My Hand, I’m a Stranger in Stockton

Today is going to be a difficult day for me.
It’s the first Thanksgiving that I haven’t been around family; what makes it more difficult is that I am expected to have Thanksgiving with someone else’s family. To make it even more strange, it’s the family of my ex’s partner.
Oy.
I am uncomfortable sometimes to the point of terror at meeting strangers, it could very well be a phobia. Add to this my discomfort at the bizarre notion of spending Thanksgiving with your ex’s in-laws, add to that the fact that they live more than an hour away and I will have no escape, no way to leave and get home where I can breathe, will be there for a full day…
I didn’t get any sleep last night trying to think of ways to get out of it, but I am so weak-minded here that I can’t envision just saying “no”.
I know that at some point I must face my fears of meeting people, I can’t spend my entire life here in the house alone. But one at a time seems to be a better idea, not an entire family, people who have pre-existing relationships and will immediately tag me as an outsider.
I just wish I was at my Dad’s house right now.
He makes fantastic mashed potatoes. Mixes in sour cream. Yum.

I hope they like the two lemon meringue pies I made.

It’s only natural

Back at my rental house in south San Jose, someone in the neighborhood had moved out last month, leaving the windows open. One of their smoke detectors had a weak battery, and it began to beep once a minute. The house was actually on the next block, there were two rows of houses between us and I could still hear the incessant beep, all day, all night. As far as I know, it is still beeping today.
I am hearing the same beep here at my new house. The first day I heard it I checked my detectors. Nope, they’re fine. The second day, I stood outside to see if I could identify where it was coming from. It was in different places. The third day, I discovered what was happening: it was a bird. One chirp every minute or so, it perched on the birch trees in my backyard and emulated a smoke detector.
Hey, if I’m going to be annoyed, I’d rather that it was from wildlife, you know?

Scenes from a Bush Thanksgiving

One of the best things about moving here is my discovery of Mark Morford. His hilarious writing is so complicated and bizarre that I often have to go back and read a paragraph again, laughing the whole time.
Here’s excerpts on his idea of Thanksgiving in the Bush White House:

Ah yes, it is that time again. The smell of roasting turkey and cigar smoke and Polo cologne, perfume like florid gasoline. Copious forced laughter that sounds like geese mating in a broom closet. It is Thanksgiving dinner at the Bush White House, where the guests mingle as though their genitals were being squeezed by manic elves, as if they were all coated in vanilla pudding being licked off by Pat Robertson. Which, truth be told, some of them seem to enjoy. A lot.

[...] George Sr. notices this, of course, from his usual place back beside the old bookcase that hasn’t been perused in five years, sips his gin fizz and chuckles softly at the scene, thinkin’ about golf, thinkin’ about how long ago it all seems since his reign of tepid ineptitude, but thinkin’, also, about how history will be much kinder to him now that his son has run the country into a blood-drenched wall. He-he-he. He’ll drink to that.

It’s the thing no one mentions, but which hangs over the room like a pall. Junior’s current miserable poll numbers now mean that he and his father share the honor of being two of the four most unpopular presidents in modern history, right alongside Carter and Nixon. But Bush 41 does not care. He gets to hang with Clinton now. He is grandfatherly and forgettable and almost invisible. In other words, his stature has improved considerably, in relation to his son. Damn this gin is good. Too bad Junior can’t have some. Looks like he could use it.

[...] Rove works the room, shakes hands, squeezing a little too hard to remind everyone who “the architect” really is. Everyone understands, even as they furtively wipe their hands on their pants after he touches them. Rove grabs fistfuls of baby shrimp and shoves them into his mouth when he thinks no one’s looking, swallows without chewing. He smells like baby aspirin and old bacon.

Karl sneaks furtive glances at Barb. He is awed by her natural power, her girth, her effortless cunning. That teal makes her look so … so … seaworthy. He wants her. Badly. She knows it. They have a secret thing — it is matronly and sweaty and creepy as hell and takes place every other Sunday in a Ritz-Carlton just off the Beltway.

[...] Condi is lonely. So, so lonely, sitting over in the far corner, all by herself, nursing her one glass of white wine. No one really talks to her anymore except Dubya and a maybe few brusque words from Rummy, who she suspects is always imagining her cleaning his guns and polishing his boots and calling him “master.” Suddenly, her heart jumps. She sees Dubya looking at her from across the room. She smiles that demonic, dominatrix-y smile that always creeps out the Asian press. He does that thing with his thin little lips, that little gesture only she understands. Her body is instantly warmed. Oh their special bond, a dark secret. It is her breath, her raison d’être. It keeps her alive.

[...] The banquet room reeks and coils and sighs. It is full of bleak energy and missed opportunities, spiritual paranoia and repressed desire and dishonest laughter. The turkey comes out dry. There is not enough pie for Dubya. Rumsfeld slurps his scotch, drunkenly. Dick eyes the dark thigh meat. Condi has to pee. There is little to be thankful for, inside this room.

Outside, however, among the nation’s awakening throngs, gratitude and hope are beginning to swell and grow anew. Only three years left. It’s long but not that long. Every person in that gloomy room will be gone. History. Nothing left but an ugly stain, oily residue, scar tissue. The room will be refreshed. The turkey will be moist. There will be more cranberry sauce. This dark, warmongering chapter will finally end. Pie all around.

It is not, the world realizes, too early to be thankful for that.

Sock it to me, sock it to me

You know what really burns me up? When some organization or group gets all discriminatory and then tries to dig themselves out of the hole by saying something conciliatory. As in the Vatican’s anti-gay missive:

The church, while deeply respecting the people in question, cannot admit to the seminary and the sacred orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or support so-called gay culture.

Emphasis mine.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel particularly respected by the church.

Why does it seem like we are on the cusp of a brand new dark age? And why don’t more people notice the first steps toward a new civil rights crisis. What’s next? “Straights only” water fountains?

I meant to do that

If you visit my house and notice that the two fluffy white towels in my bathroom have very different patterns, please don’t assume that I just picked up two towels at Costco without looking closely at what I was doing.
No, I’m going for a charming, eclectic and wacky kind of look. Really.