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Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty: Adventures in looking For the Left

I went out seeking a herd of cats so I could finally meet “the left”. You know ….”the pussies”…..

Because the word “pussy” is not a derogatory term you know. But you knew that right? And don’t you dare get offended. Because it means you are a wimp. Politically correct. Because that is the absolutely worst human trait one can have on the left apparently. Being politically correct. Oh. Sinful. You can be a serial killer and we will lap you up as long as you are not politically correct.

There.Is. No. Left.

It doesn’t exist in the United States. It is a largely and invention of the right to explain all those people who disagree with them.

There are certainly people who espouse leftist ideals/progressive notions/alternative points of view. There are certainly people who engage in community action and volunteer work that could be broadly termed leftist because in one way or another they are oppositional. They wish to oppose current economic and political structures. They participate in blogs which apparently isn’t pure enough to be considered real. They are cowards and slackers because they aren’t bashing heads and blowing shit up.

But we don’t have a left. We don’t have an organization, no structure, no leaders, no official spokespersons. There are various reasons for this a lack of unionization, no funding sources which the right has plenty of, a lack of cohesive identity, a mythical belief in America that class either does not exist or does not matter, divisions in the working class along region, gender, and race. Nobody speaks for me. And nobody speaks for you.

Right now, the left is a unicorn and it is either naive or pompous to start making declarations about who we are. If we exist.

Over at Alternet an interesting article declares that the left is lacking.

There is an astonishing lack of anger among liberals, progressives and radicals who have abandoned emotion to the right.

If DD is any representative sample there are plenty of angry people. There is plenty of be angry about. But we did not abandon that emotion to the right. The right have always been angry. This isn’t something new. They will always be angry. When they have power they aren’t happy. We know many of them either require therapy or have gained nothing from it. And anyway who has insurance if one has any at all that even covers therapy. We are all self medicating these days. Except maybe in movies about select American cities where everybody seems to have a therapist and they still don’t learn a damn thing about themselves.


Why We’re Bitches

Full disclosure: I am listening to overtly mellow music as I write this. I work with a woman who claims that she would be homicidal without yoga. Why should I disagree?

Although there is a faux trend in popular culture to suddenly acknowledge the market value of women over 40 as consumers only because of course that is the one things we are running out of in corporate managed capitalism: anybody with money. So we are suddenly faced with “positive” images after years of being ignored or just scorned. As it happens the current cutesy image of the over 40 woman is that of an individual with endless resources. The recent past of Sex in the City the sudden discovery of Meryl Streep as an actress who is not only not dead and dried up but still kicking it and shouldn’t we be happy girls? We have arrived. Haven’t we?

Have we? Try being over 40 and daring to have a fucking wrinkle and be derided as old while mocked if it is evident one has dallied with too much plastic surgery. And don’t wear an ill fitting fucking pant suit lest one be the example of the sexless vagina less power witch. On the other hand don’t try and appear too sexy. That would undermine one’s intellectual credibility. Which isn’t necessarily such a good thing to have either unless the boys approve and it can be used for corporate good and has anybody noticed that men are losing their jobs quicker than women? I can hardly wait for some irrelevant right wing middle aged commentator to drag out statistics about how men have been unjust victims in this recession and the solution is for the girls to go back into the kitchen. You know like the Reagan years when retro was cool and the very roots of your jobs disappearing to other places started.  Oh and note to men you have been fucked and you have been unjustly rearranged and you should be pissed just don’t buy into that blame the chicks ideology.

If you dye your hair you are denying reality ( thanks it has worked for me so far ) and if you don’t and let your natural wisdom show through a la grey hair you are likely to be replaced by the  cuter younger version of yourself in the office. You know the younger cuter version of yourself: the neo bandwagon crowd, the young women who think feminism is silly and they graduated with a 4.0 thank you very much. Dude. Have lunch with me in a few years. Like when you find out your maternity leave is two weeks long and you have to answer your email the whole time. America is so family oriented. Maybe it would be better if we all lived in housing complexes owned by whatever company we work for so the commute would be nice and short. Oh. Didn’t we call those company towns in the day? Nice idea we should try again since nobody can pay their mortgages even though the crisis is supposed to be not getting worse.

And if you’re fat you’re just another stupid cow American woman who can’t please her man and that is why American men are going and getting themselves nice foreign wives if you’re thin you must have an eating disorder. Good luck if you happen to be a woman of any shade or color and you don’t dress the way the Gap or J. Crew thinks you should. Somebody might fear your “ethnicity’ or complain you look too “ethnic’. I don’t know what too ethnic actually is but I know certain hairstyles are frowned upon at my work place. One thing that gets me is the very people who complain about blatant expressions of ethnicity never really show which interest in the various nationalities and cultural variations that swirl around. Never mind that Americans can barely speak one language reasonably well. Shout out to Canada the bilingual country where nobody actually really learned another language. But they talked about it.


We always embrace our own nostalgia and broadly critique the nostalgia of others. Because our nostalgia is our own experience. And our own experience is not objective. It is personal, painful, joyous, it can be completely mysterious to others and completely clarifying to ourselves. It is at time what can even separate us from connecting to others or be the binding force that compels us to reach out.

Having been here from the creation and I say this not to claim any uniqueness, or superiority. My writing is pretty sporadic. Writing is very difficult for me. But I know why I came here. I was attracted by the personalities and who I knew would be writing. I wanted to watch it all happen and make a smart ass comment or two.

No this is not a GBCW thing. When things don’t move me here I just take a break.

Over the short history here we have had some painful verbal blood baths over issues over which people had intensely held positions, beliefs and experiences. We fought one another pretty fiercely despite the whole “be excellent” agreement. People got pissed. We made half assed accusations. We got defensive.

We retreated.

Then we ever so tentatively reached out to one another. We reached out to people we thought we did not like, people we privately told ourselves five minutes earlier were total absolute morons.

Were things “better” then than they are now? I don’t know.

Can we be better? Yes. Can we be passionate without implying the other person is a tool of such and such.

We have to.

What did we fight about in my nostalgic “good old days”?

We argued race, class, gender, sex and sexuality. We hurt one another at times. We stood in corners and pointed. We sought alliances. Some odd ones at times. The men and the women squared off against one another. Claimed neither of us could understand the other. We had intense rumination about whether white people were just always confronting from a position of racism and just refusing to recognize it. We asked ourselves if the middle class could really truly ever understand class consciousness through anything but the prism of consumerism. We talked about working class racism and sexism and whether it was to be understood as inevitable, experiential, or was it a false designation more properly mediated through certain language usage. We talked about whether words matter and if they can really hurt.

The Love Buffet

   E and I met him by the pool when we were drunk. I think we were drunk most of that year. We all hate our jobs. Lucky I didn’t stay there for twenty. I thought he was decent looking and articulate. He also had a good job which was a rarity in that town. When we went out to the local bars we were screwed. The women got pissed off at us because their men asked us to dance and the men got pissed off at us when we said no in order to avoid angry women confronting us in the battered washrooms. We learned to drink out of town fairly early after our arrival. I dated a local for a while he was a long haul trucker with other girlfriends no doubt, but when he was in town he always brought me lunch at work and took me dancing at the clubs in Mexico.

Anyway. I liked this guy for E who was still mooning over some ex university boyfriend. He offered to take us out to the lake in his boat. He was careful to suggest she bring a couple of friends. So we did and we had a nice day. They went out on a few dates and I thought: finally I will stop hearing about this stupid ex.

Sadly E informed me that he kissed like a lizard and she ended the relationship. Every time I saw him at the apartment complex after she shared this information I saw him as a skinny green lizard and in time we called him lizard man behind his back. He stopped me one day and told me that she was “too nice” for him and he hoped he did not hurt her feelings when he ended things. On balance, I believed E’s version simply because I to had been kissed in a lizard like fashion and concluded there was no hope for for pleasant coupling. E later dated and married R who apparently kissed rather well but had severe employment difficulties. He didn’t want to work as much as talk about what he wanted to do with his life one day. Initially E took this talk for greater ambition. We all did.

J dragged me to the rodeo and then to the bars after to met a cowboy. She actually met a rancher. He was very unavailable at times. He lied to her about where he was going. J made me go out on stakeouts with her to track him down. We drank in the car and then one of her colleagues suggested she go to a spell casting woman since some other woman obviously either put evil upon J or her own powers over the rancher. These things make ultimate sense when sobriety is rare and the weather is constantly hot. The spell casting woman made up a dubious concoction for J to drink and wanted once weekly sessions to strengthen the spell. J ditched the concoction and just continued stalking the rancher. I tried to point out that in a small town there was a high degree of certainty he would realize she was dogging him. As it happened he did notice and he thought it was “cute”. They got married.

I went home for a visit and ran into a guy I went to school with who suggested a movie. He let me pick the movie and then complained about the subtitles even though I asked him several times if he minded seeing it. It was weird to see you there with a blonde version of me. Ironically my date was also blonde. My date asked me after if I liked “American” movies. I said,” you mean where a bunch of shit gets blown up or where some really hot woman gets won over my a nerdy guy.” A mutual friend told me that he talked obsessively about me but then declared he never wanted to see me again. We only had a few dates when I visited home from time to time and he never really enjoyed whatever I suggested we do. I thought it was interesting that he jumped right in the shower after we had sex.

F and R had a problematic relationship. R’s parents had a habit of showing up at their place unannounced and then inviting him out for lunch or dinner. Just him. She got annoyed by this and pushed R to confront his parents about the exclusion. His parents were puzzled when he finally did and said,”what are you talking about.” F and R broke up and his parents gave him money to go back to university. He dropped out after a year and married a woman a few years older than him. F was outraged when she ran into them. The woman was quite plain when contrasted with F. F was also an excellent cook and far more organized than I. ” Fuck”, she said,” I don’t get it aren’t you supposed to upgrade in your next relationship?” F later married a christian drug addict. She was an atheist and not much into drugs. They divorced because the religion thing got too much for her to handle. She did not mind paying for rehab.

What I Learned About Leadership This Week

When you work night shift at a hospital, you are bound to have a bad week. What I was not expecting to experience was “the moment”, the moment when you have very little time to think or plan.

We had a perfect storm. Normally we have more than one supervisor. I was supposed to work half a shift and take a class in the morning but alas everybody was also sick. I was also sick, that stomach thing going around, but functional. Just tired. When I came in the day shift said,”Houston we have a problem” and laid out all the issues. We all rolled our eyes at one another. Day shift said,”hey man want us to stay a few minutes and make out the schedules for the next day.” I accepted which turned out to be a good idea. They offered which turned out to be critical because as it turned out I wouldn’t have time to do it.

I told myself,”Well, I won’t be bored tonight.” I told the staff I was apologizing in advance that if I did not answer their pages right away it was simply because I was tied up but I would still be available. Eye rolls. They were very busy and I often help them make clinical decisions as well as tactical ones.

Fireworks: Photos

Memphis in May is a month long celebration of various events that generally involve rain, mud, and varying levels of debauchery/consumption. Last night was a mellow evening.

I took a few pictures. I tried to do something different with the fireworks, not sure I succeeded.

Please feel free to add any of your favorite pictures.





OMG…. Mandated Paid Vacation

This past week some screaming radical leftist in Congress dared to introduce a proposal that would mandate paid vacation for workers.

Holy fuck some government bureaucrat is going to try and violate your civil right to work until you are dead. Will horrors in the American work place ever cease?

So on Thursday, the Florida Democrat will introduce the Paid Vacation Act – legislation that would be the first to make paid vacation time a requirement under federal law.

The bill would require companies with more than 100 employees to offer a week of paid vacation for both full-time and part-time employees after they’ve put in a year on the job. Three years after the effective date of the law, those same companies would be required to provide two weeks of paid vacation, and companies with 50 or more employees would have to provide one week

Could capitalism survive this? I mean, well rested workers might start thinking about stuff and enjoying their lives and recognizing their children. Over worked spouses doing opposite shifts from one another to accommodate the reality of little affordable child care in this country might have conversations with one another!

Over at Politico, it is noted that…

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 28 million Americans – or about a quarter of the work force – don’t get any paid vacation. The center says that a lack of vacation causes stress and workplace burnout and that those evil twins cost the economy more than $300 billion each year.

One more if-you’re-reading-this-then-you’re-probably-not-on-vacation fact: The United States is dead last among 21 industrial countries when it comes to mandatory R&R.

France currently requires employers to provide 30 days of paid leave.

Isn’t that silly? We want American workers to be burned out. That is the whole point of America. Stressed out Americans are good for capitalism. Then when they get a free moment they go out and buy stuff to prove to their neighbors how hard they work. Besides we don’t want workers being mentally alert, they might become more mindful of workplace safety and go organize unions.

Southwest Shots

America is not a suburb or a strip mall. It contains some vast unfathomable places. Places that evoke timelessness and spirituality regardless of one’s specific beliefs. As I hiked my middle aged self down and up trails I was struck by the way my petty thoughts, the ones that entertain me, the ones that occasionally obsess me, came to mean fundamentally nothing against the landscape.

Most of these pictures where taken at Zion, Bryce, and a few other parks and trails in and around Utah. Sadly, my talent does not match the majesty of the scenery but I hope they bring a slight sense of wonder and invoke my appreciation for a world that doesn’t change even as humanity swirls in confusion.


Photo Diary: A Few Shots of Chicago

I went to Chicago recently, my only regret is that I did not get to spend enough time playing tourist. I was fortunate enough to be attending a conference, and the number of attendees compared to previous years was not surprisingly sharply down. What little I saw impressed me and I used to hate hot dogs till I had the real deal.

I did take a few pictures though.

I happened to notice a few tall buildings….


December 5th 1921- March 8th 2009

  She was so frail when I went back for my last visit in January. Even though Mom had found her a place close by, she had a difficult transition from her own place to a “retirement home” and she often had moments of panic calling my Mom desperately after Mom had just left. My Mom confided at times she felt frustrated to see her own mother, such a tough pragmatist become needy. Grandma knew she had become this way and lamented leaning so hard on my Mom. There was nothing wrong with her intellect. The day before I flew back to Tennessee we sat around and did crossword puzzles with her and argued over words and spelling. The last few visits home I was nagged by a feeling it was the last time I would see her. When I spoke to her last week on the phone she sounded tired but alright.

Thursday afternoon I got “the call” from Mom. Massive anterior MI. She was still alive. She had a DNR. We had discussed dying and funerals over the years. When she was still conscious, Mom told her how much we both loved her. Grandma instructed to her call a list of people. She was gone at 0630 AM this morning.

Yes. Intellectually I knew she had to go. Her body gave out. Considering she had smoked many years, quit, survived colon cancer living to her age was pretty good. Intellectually. Yes. I understand. She had suffered the last few years, not acutely but gradually. Her sight. Her independence. She became weak and tired. In fact, I told Mom and she agreed that her heart would just stop working.

But emotionally? No. Even though I prepared for this moment, I still feel intense sadness. Things get sad at work sometimes but you wrap yourself around professionalism in order to be able to be useful to the families. But it has been a while since I felt intense sadness. Tiring. It doesn’t matter whether you expect to lose somebody or not.It doesn’t really matter whether they were 8 or 88. They are gone. In my case I lost one of the few people in the world who knew me very intimately. Did I lose something of myself?

Maybe that isn’t so bad. I don’t believe in heaven and hell so maybe when she passed she took a little piece of me with her into the universe. And a piece of my mom.

She did not want a funeral. She wanted to be cremated and she told us the place where she wanted her ashes scattered. My mom told me not to rush home for a visit but when i came we would scatter the ashes.

Her name was Jeanie.

Her parents met on the boat coming over from Scotland and got married. Her father had already run away from home several times. She was the youngest of six. A few years before there was another baby who died in infancy probably from the flu. Growing up she had a German Shepherd named “Dawn”. Dawn walked them to school and met them when they returned. They dressed Dawn up like a baby and she went ice skating and sledding with them.

Her favorite brother Bill died in the war. There is a street in France named after him. He was injured and saved several other injured people by stealing a truck getting them in and taking them to a medical station while under fire. Somehow he disappeared. Another brother did some semi pro wrestling and boxing in the 1930’s.

Snow day in Tennessee

They called for six inches with grave certitude. The thing is they call for a lot of things with grave certitude on the Memphis news stations. Much of it never happens. They talk frequently about their fancy “Doppler” radar systems for predicting the weather. Hey, I will give you a free tip: chances are good it will be hot in the summer and don’t visit in August. Unless you are from New Orleans and then it won’t seem too bad at all. Kinda balmy.

We are about 30 minutes outside of Memphis but I work there and lived there for a few years so we got to enjoy the charming after effects and none of the dire consequences.

This morning the dogs were eager to drag us out….


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