Random Acts of Blogolence

I have this Ideas notebook that I use for jotting down ideas for stories, blog topics, and letters to people. Sometimes a kernel of an idea leads to an entire novel:

“Carol was depressed. Carol was always depressed. Her depression had lasted longer than the Great one, the only difference being that nobody had ever handed her a New Deal.”

Years ago, I wrote a whole novel built around that one tiny paragraph. In fact, I was so amused by it that I called Carol herself, and we screamed and laughed for days. That’s at least ONE sale!

Ideas notebooks have to be tended to and nourished with care; the germ of an idea, written down in shorthand as is sometimes the case, can disappear after a few days if you don’t swathe it in a little fur coat of description. Something like “a ang tub g’ma’s” won’t make any sense after a while; you have to flesh it out right away: “Write short story about catching Aunt Angie in the bathtub at Grandma’s house.”

Here are a few bits and pieces (clear or unclear) from my Ideas book, all of them naturally copyrighted herewith, complete with all the necessary ironclad herewiths and whereases:

OK — Norwegian Day Parade, Albanian flag, marching behind horses.

? –Dogs! Nuns! the JCs and BDs of my grammar school years.

? –Ellie: plaid butterscotch

OK –When I was young I wanted to marry a doctor; now I just GO to the doctor.

OK –buys her family tickets to Italy using the loose change she finds in people’s couches.

OK –The Night Paula’s Husband Died and Grandpa Fell In the Tub

? –helicopter buzzes us as we make love.

OK –Tupperware fumes caused global warming

OK –Why are we here? To vacuum.

? –Aunt Ida. L. thion Good guy

OK –Looking for a new maid while attending an Interfaith church service.

? –Waving women / volunteer to be bumped- not!

? –Take two checkbooks and call me in the morning.

Get the picture? The writers and bloggers among you know what it’s like. The BEST idea pops into your head at a stop light– you reach for a pen and a scrap of paper… you start to jot furiously… and, for the first time in the history of transportation, the light at 436 and Aloma changes immediately to green after three seconds instead of making you SIT there for the standard three minutes. Arrrggghhh!

One of these days I think I should just crochet all my unintelligible jottings into one big magnum opus, and I’ll send it to Oprah. She’ll have me on the show; she’ll make profound statements about my book, none of which will make any sense to me, but I’ll pretend, and we’ll both hug and cry. She’ll compare me to current Balkan social commentators because of my wry take on life– Why are we here? To vacuum— and maybe I’ll win the Nobel prize. (Something else to dust.)

What can I say?

Gay Marriage, the Pledge, and All That


This week, a ten-year-old boy was ratted out by a substitute teacher after he refused repeatedly to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He refused because, in the good ol’  USA, the rights of his tax-paying gay and lesbian fellow citizens have been repeatedly assailed and compromised and, to him, that did not add up to “liberty and justice for all.”

Out of the mouths of babes!

How many people have conveniently forgotten that this country was founded by rebels? They came here to basically form a country where everybody could keep out of everyone else’s private business; things were legislated toward those ends and, the Christian, God-fearing Puritans and the witch-hunters notwithstanding (just to name two early instances), the model has worked well. Of course heads had to be broken and bodies mutilated after being wrung dry in the name of “Biblically sanctioned” slavery, but you know what? It only took a couple of hundred years before our black brothers and sisters were afforded full citizenship. And of course every immigrant group that has come here to slave over railroad-building and Empire-growing has had to be put through the mill of hatred, racism, ignorance, and misunderstanding before the powers-that-be decided that they, just like the people who got here first, should be able to pay taxes just like everyone else.

So, on paper, everyone is equal. However, gay people aren’t equal. Every year, laws are put into place preventing us from actually achieving our full due regarding life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We’re legislated against and told that we CAN’T do this and we CAN’T do that. Our rights are boiled down into initiatives that the lovely, educated masses get to march into a voting booth and vote against. Though many municipalities have voted otherwise, and the progress appears excellent on that level, there still remain many flies in the ointment.

This is nice? Hasn’t anyone in this country learned anything? Judging by today’s level of education, I would have to say no. People are encouraged toward hatred, toward divisiveness, and toward indifference. And these emotional issues are played out within the sacred confines of the voting booth.

Who do I blame? I blame politicians who appeal to the ignorant and to the ill-educated– the sort of politicians who lick the thighs of their constituencies, cajoling and playing up fears within the guise of feel-good, anti-intellectual Americanism. You don’t agree with them? Then you’re a communist, or– these days– a socialist. Does anyone even KNOW what socialism is? Apparently not, because millions of our citizens enjoy the benefits of socialism without even realizing it.

And what gets me– and what everlastingly shames me– is that these attitudes are fed to the people by their religious leaders. Something like “equal rights for all our gay citizens” has been forcibly and horribly twisted into “those perverts want SPECIAL rights!”  And “those perverts want to force the churches to marry them at the altars!”  And “those perverts want to assail and cheapen the sanctity of the marriage sacrament!”

They are entitled to their opinions, of course. But you see, it’s not just a matter of having an opinion anymore– these opinions have been allowed to fester into active discrimination and, in many cases, murderous violence. These, therefore, are no longer people with opinions– because their opinions have succeeded in prevenmting me from living my life fully. And I’m angry!

You know what? Most, if not all of the gay people I know scratch their heads at all this. Storm the altars? No way. The opposition has decided that this issue be called “gay marriage” in order to appeal emotionally to its constituency. More thigh licking, in other words. What’s wrong with “equal rights for all?” I pay taxes toward that end, or I am missing something? My taxes go to fund wars and shenanigans much as they go toward helping the disadvantaged, but I don’t get to choose exactly where my dollars go. I end up paying to keep myself rooted in my second-class status because I don’t see the Feds protecting my rights. Hear that, Mr. President? Can you say “executive order?” I know you’ve got more pressing matters on your mind, but you need to make it a point to ensure that ALL your taxpayers are enjoying ALL the liberties that these endless wars are supposedly being fought for overseas. (And how ironic that forcibly closeted brothers and sisters are sent to Iraq to free the population… don’t ask, don’t tell? How about don’t get me started?!)

I’m grateful for the segment of the population that actually sits down to consider these issues, and who decide that it is 100% wrong to deny gay citizens the rights we were born to. This is NOT a religious issue; if the churches want to become actively involved in politics that foster discrimination, then tax the hell out of them.  I include my own Church within that group, most especially. It’s a cross I bear, ha ha… but I send the eMails and write the letters because they have to know how I feel. And I hear back, and, while it’s always good and encouraging, why can’t it be universal?

Ten years old… out of the mouths of babes, indeed…

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it ?

Tilin’ and Stylin’– Home Renovation

Tile 4

It starts like this: while cleaning the carpet, you run across a particularly stubborn thread which, after many minutes, won’t allow itself to be sucked up into the vacuum cleaner. You stop everything so that you can roll the thread into a ball, and while you’re in that bent-over position close to the carpet, you notice how awful it really is. Later that day, you snag your big toe on a section of parquet that has loosened itself from its gluey mooring. Still later, you notice nine million little slits and marks in the white kitchen linoleum that you swear weren’t there a few minutes ago.

We’d been talking about eventually tiling the entire house, a sort of back burner project, but then my sister Lois called from the tile place she works in. “Lissen, ya want tile? We got these specials goin’ and I can get ya a good price on a discontinued pattern. Call me.”

CLICK went the strings of my brain. But we needed to rationalize the main question: could we afford to tile the entire house? The deciding factors:

A. I’d spent ten days in Italy living on tile at my cousins’ houses, and walking across it in practically every church we visited. It was cool, earthy, and dramatic. That describes me to a T !

B. Allergens thrive in carpets and in parquet flooring; I am not a well person, being riddled with allergies,  and so I decided I need to be weller by adjusting my environment accordingly.

C. The President has encouraged me to stimulate the economy by buying anything I can.

~     ~     ~

So I called Lois. Then we spent some days prying old parquet from the cement slab, and cleaned everything as best as we could until the slab was as spotless as my soul. I’d placed the parquet myself years ago– nine million little six-inch squares laced with metal strips– but they came up easily with a ripper that Jon, our contractor, loaned me. RRRRRRRRRRRIP ! Parquet was flying while Kirk tried to watch Jeopardy. RRRRRRRRRRRIP! Pieces of wood ricocheted against the bathroom door while Kirk was showering and probably thinking that we were being raided. All that RRRRRRRRRRIPPPPPING is great exercise, and we ended up with hardly any blisters.

The tile arrived on two pallets which sat in the driveway for a day; when Kirk got home from work we brought them all into the house: 84 boxes, each weighing 55 pounds. We scattered them throughout the living room, and THEN eMailed Jon to tell him that the tile had arrived.

“Great!” he said. “Did you put it all on the back porch so that it’s out of our way?”

The next night the three of us moved all 84 boxes, weighing 55 pounds each, to the back porch so that it was out of our way. Carpet was ripped up and cut into manageable sections, so that the sanitation men shouldn’t have to work so hard God forbid, and then Jon started laying tile.

How impressed we were when he produced columns of figures resulting in measurements, ratios, and formulae! He determined the “keystone,” which is the first tile you place; it determines the direction and placement for all the other tiles. We had a little ceremony: Jon wrote our names and the date on the slab, spread adhesive, and then I laid the first tile. Then I went to work!

I tell you, he is such a professional– the care he puts into a project is incredible. It’s true what they say– contractors rule the world!

It’s amazing; he’s got the living room and dining area done,and soon we’ll be attacking the hallway and two of the bedrooms. It looks great, and he’s doing a fabulous job. The tiles aren’t fussy-looking; though they are new, made in Reggio nell’ Emilia, they have roughened edges and look as if they’ve been trod upon by monks and nuns for a thousand years, though it’s apparent that they removed their shoes first. They’re cool and clean and attractively stained, and they make me want to go into the kitchen and bake bread in the furnace oven. Who knew a floor could be so inspiring?

Then of course we have to paint, because the Creamsicle / blue combo that worked so well with the gray carpet just ain’t gonna work with terra cotta tile. Jon’s got piles of color samples that we’ve been happily wading though, trying to come up with a new combo– so far it looks like a tan and olive coupling, I think, because of the earth toned Herculon 1960 couch and chairs. And then the cabinets and appliances in the kitchen have to be removed so that tile can be laid throughout, which is a nice thing to do for the next people who live here– whoever they may one day be. And cabinets have to be raised a bit higher on the wall because the Frigidaire is going to be sitting a half inch higher on the tile,  therefore grazing the underside of the cabinet mounted above it… and that reminds us that we need nice new closet doors throughout, a new master shower, and some wallboard replacement.And we are still sorting and shredding and giving away things or listing them on eBay. So much to do; what possessed us to begin this during the Holidays ?

It’s nice that the President wants us to stimulate the economy… but do I have to do it all myself ?