Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I played it all out in my head on the way home – exactly what she would have to say to apologize. How she would fuck it all up. How my completely justified anger would put her on the defensive. The ensuing fight.

I thought about how I would nail her to the cross about defending her indefensible behavior. I practiced my righteous indignation. In the front seat of The Tracker, I mimed my haughty sign off.

We were destined to leave this day with a mutual hatred of each other.

Now all I had to do was wait...

And sure enough, the phone rang.

My heart began to beat. Rapidly. This was it.

The hurt came rushing back to me. As did the anticipation - the certainty. The knowledge that I'd been here a hundred times before and that a hundred times out of a hundred, the result had been the same.

This time would be no different.

This time would end just like all the others.

This time...

From the first moment, this time was somehow different...This time...dammit if she didn’t do everything right.

She apologized, and, try though I might, I couldn’t pick apart the sincerity in her voice.

She said she understood how she had let me down. She said she knew that she had inconvenienced me. She said she would very much like to see me – to make it up to me. She offered to make ammends in the way that she, herself, would desire ammends if the same situation had happened to her.

She said all of this without one word of prompting from me.

In fact, I didn’t have to say anything at all.

In about 5 minutes, she managed to disarm a bomb of deep, personal hurt that I’d been building since I mastered the dexterity.

With one phone call, she showed me that someone out there knew – instinctively – how to love me.

That it is possible. That I am not a human porcupine; or jarred lightening bug.

That I was and am a human being, worthy of respect and care. That my feelings mattered, and were justified, and not just in my own mind.

She called in one moment. She secured a friend for a lifetime.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Patriotism for the Disillusioned

Days like today - weeks like this week - I find it difficult to identify with my own country.

And this is very distressing to me.

You see, I was raised to be proud of where I am from. To think America is the best damned place on earth and, as a "one up," that the South represented the best of the best.

You've heard "American by birth, Southerner by the grace of God"?


That's THIS girl.

But this week someone bombed the Boston Marathon.

As people lay mutilated, body parts strewn on the ground, I had to write up the carnage for the nearly 70,000 people who subscribe to my magazine.

My support system reminded me to look to the heroes during this tragedy.

It helped.

But something about it - something other than the obvious - continued to claw at me.

Today, a fertilizer plant in Texas exploded, killing - hell, I don't know how many people.

Likewise today, the representatives of our national government voted down a mandate for background checks for gun purchases.


I always felt safe in this country.

Even after narrowly escaping a kidnapping as a four-year old.

Even after 9/11.

Like a child, I had this naive and innocent belief that living in the best damned place on earth would always protect me.

That nothing bad could happen to me.

That I could sleep well at night.

I think that feeling - that clawing feeling that's come over me this week - may be a loss of that innocence.

Because for perhaps the first time, I feel like my nation as a whole has failed me.


I know the U.S. didn't plant the explosives at the finish line. I know we didn't set fire to the fertilizer. I know citizens stand behind protection legislation.

But I can't help feeling that some underlying current of how we are living is somehow lending itself to these disasters.

Don't get me wrong - I haven't joined the Westboro Baptist Church, and I don't think our benevolent Father is punishing us for anything - but I do think that we are clinging to ideals and practices which are of detriment to us as a people. And I think some of these tragedies are repercussions.

Critics will say I am victim blaming, but I think this is an incorrect or limited view.

Rather I am saying that we, as a people, are clinging desperately to volcanoes, claiming "This is where we're from, This is our heritage, and we're sticking put." But then we're somehow outraged when we get burned.

Rather than blame the people - or the volcano - I am simply suggesting we let go, and come down from the mountain. Because that ticking time bomb may have been what we were born into and raised with, but that doesn't make it good for us.

Generally speaking, we wait for a disasters to force our hand, preferring instead to remain inactive until it's too late and lives are lost.

It's why we should have repaired the failing levies before Katrina. It's why we should have had an emergency plan in place before Sandy ever touched down.

It's why I no longer feel safe in a place I know I'd fight for, if the situation called for it.

And I really hate feeling like this.

I hate feeling like the solution to terrorism is every citizen carrying a handgun just to get groceries at Publix.

I hate that I cannot walk down the street in my beloved city without worrying that some random somebody with a history of mental illness is also walking Euclid with a gun on his person.

Is this really what I have to do to get along in this country?

Because every place I've ever seen - either in person or on the news - where folks have to carry a gun for their own personal safety, is a place Americans are typically warned not to visit.


I hear a lot of hemming and hawing about the loss of our freedoms. About how regulation will lead to elimination. About how the government is out to rob us of the ideals we hold dear.

And much of it is coming from people who supported The Patriot Act.


Look, I don't know what the answer is, but I do know this:

My rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Include my ability to walk down the street - without a gun - and not have to be terrified for my safety. They involve me knowing preventative measures are being taken - without regard to cost and difficulty level- so that maybe I have a good chance of making it through the day unharmed.

My rights consist of peace of mind. Of certainty of safety, like I had when I was little. Like I had until this past week.


Life isn't perfect.

It's hard, and there are bad people in the world.

But - given these facts - I still refuse to see the world as "not good." As "scary" and "evil" and any other terms you'd see in a banal write up of a slasher film.

I refuse these things, because I was brought up to believe I live in the best damned place on earth.

And I still believe America - its citizens - have the capacity to prove me right.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Match Game

When it comes to relationships, most people I know are attempting 11th grade chemistry - trying to change their partner (and themselves) through a series of complex mathematical equations that result in a quasi-stable arrangement of give and take.

With bunsen burners.

The relationship provides the fire, and, rather than consider whether the elements (us) can stand the flames, we immediately try to adapt ourselves to the heat.

What results is a fucking fire-y mess. And baby, you know it burns.

Because what begins rather simply as a chemical attraction somehow becomes a scientific bartering system; an atomic-level tit-for-tat exchange that transforms the participants, not into the "ideal" 2 hydrogens + 1 oxygen = water equation - but rather into relationship mad scientists, running frantically about our romance labs, convinced that, if we just "get the right chemical combination" that somehow everything will work out.

If I just add this other element...but no...that leaves an extra ion...Oh no! It's unstable...better factor in the atomic weight...and drop the "t" and multiply by a mole and dance a muthafuckin' jig. "It'll work!," you swear. "It'll work, so help me G-d!"

Hair plastered to your brow, sweat beading at the temples, eyes red from weeks of poor sleep, you're barely aware you're grasping at straws: "If I am a base," you say, "and he is an acid, we'll balance each other out, see? Science!"




Because if you have to force it, change it, fix it?

Bitches, it's broken.

And no amount of mathematical jig dancing is gonna finagle you a proper match.

So let me enlighten you as to what will.


Everything you ever needed to know about romantic relationships, you knew when you were 4.

You just decided to complicate it when you got older.

Because you? Are an idiot.

By age 4 you had a basic command of language, motor movement, and the concept of "alike" and "different." As it turns out, this is really all you need.

Because that's all you need to play The Match Game.

And romantic relationships are really nothing more (or less) than The Match Game.

As anyone with good parents or an invested grandfather will remember, The Match Game was pretty straighforward. Pictures on cards: ice cream cone, fire truck, circus seal. You shuffle the cards, turn their faces to the floor and draw two, trying to make a pair. If the pair don't match? You put 'em back.

Simple as that.

Relationships are just the same.

Forget the fucking "I'm a base, he's an acid, we balance each other out" mentality.

It's bullshit, and it's not about balance. It's about SAME.

Same behaviors. Same likes. Same dislikes. Same values.

4 year old you knew all about same. Adult you? Is still trying to do chemistry. And why? You KNOW you're gonna fail. You're not even that good at math.

4 year old you was completely aware of him/herself. 4 year old you knew exactly what s/he wanted and when. Because that's what 4 year olds do. So when 4 year old you drew an ice cream cone, s/he knew s/he was looking for another ice cream cone. Not a fire truck. Not a circus seal. AN ICE CREAM CONE. sputter, "I like fire trucks. I like the hook and ladder. And...I know I'm an ice cream cone, and she's a fire truck, but I'm sure we can make it work..."

Oh you can, can you?

First of all, 4 year old you calls "bullshit" and says ice cream cone DOES NOT MATCH fire truck, and demands you put the card back. But let's come back to 4 year old you, as he is obviously so far ahead of your present curve.

You like the fire truck do you? Nice hook and ladder system eh?

"Yeah," you say, shrugging your shoulders. "And, I mean, she puts out fires in houses, and, as an ice cream cone I put out fires in people's mouths can work, right? If I just..."

My G-d you're an idiot.


NO. It can't.


Because you may like her hook and ladder, but at the end of the day, she's a fire truck and you're an ice cream cone. And when you start to drip? She's gonna think you're gross. And when you hear her siren? You're gonna wanna bail. Pronto.

Why? Because like matches like, and she is not a match to you.

A cone is a cone and a truck is a truck and a circus seal is a circus seal. Ain't nuthin' gonna change that.

And the sooner you get that 4 year old wisdom through your 11th grade skull, the happier you'll be.

Start looking for someone who already matches you - because, like it or not, we choose how we grow. And if you grow to be a to-bed early, conservative Christian who likes to eat healthy, a gorgeous up-all-night, liberal agnostic with an addiction to cake is not a good match for you. No matter how much you like her hook and ladder.

Stop hunting for someone you have to change. Or who has to change you.

Start looking for someone whose waffle cone matches yours. Someone who'll understand when you drip, 'cause she does too. Someone who looks great in sprinkles and, even though she can't take the heat, she makes you smile whenever you think of her Rocky Road.

A fire truck shoots water and a circus seal swims in it. But that's one ugly fucking baby, if you think about it.

On the other hand, if you're a chocolate vanilla swirl and she's a strawberry, then you've got yourself a Neapolitan.

And that sounds fucking delicious.

No matter how old you are.