“This Is Your Captain Freaking.”

Say what you want about the journalistic principles of the New York Post; that headline was brilliant. They used it to describe what happened when a JetBlue pilot went off his head (that is, I believe, the technical term) and potentially tried to take down a plane he was supposed to be safely flying to Las Vegas.

According to reports, Captain Clayton Osborn got to his flight from New York to Sin City much later than usual. Apparently, the destination was part of the problem. He reportedly started talking about religion as soon as he got on the bird, muttering about the sinfulness of the town where they were meant to land.

Now, I’m sorry. I have sympathy for those whose minds are less than sound, be it temporarily or permanently (Lord knows I’ve had my doubts about my own). And I have faith, however I may wrestle with it.  But if you get on a plane and start talking about religion? One of us is getting off said plane before it taxis to the runway, knowwhatI’msayin’? 

At the controls, Capt. Osborn apparently told air traffic controllers to be quiet. In the air, he shut down some of the stuff that was supposed to be turned on, including the lights inside the cockpit. And then he told his co-pilot that “things just don’t matter” and “we need to take a leap of faith.”

“We’re not going to Vegas,” he said.

Now. If you’re going to tell me my flight isn’t going to where I thought it was going, then the next thing you say had better be, “We’re going to Hawaii instead.” This guy? This guy didn’t really specify where they were going instead.

But then the captain made a mistake that foiled his plan. He left the cockpit. And the co-pilot? Locked him out.

This is getting so good, right?

Our boy Osborn then went alternately speaking calmly with the flight crew and rampaging about the cabin, yelling stuff and grabbing flight attendants in ways most captains have never grabbed a flight attendant before (and that’s saying something). So the co-pilot got on the intercom – because at this point I guess the cat’s out of the bag and everyone pretty much knows they’ve got a problem and told basically everybody on the plane to restrain Capt. Osborn.

Flight Team Avenger! Go! Provided you’ve understood a single word of what was just said on the piece of crap intercom!

In true post-9/11 American fashion, a bunch of people jumped on the dude – who was pretty big, as I understand, and was ranting about bombs and Al Qaeda, from what I’ve read. It kind of seems like he wasn’t yelling that he was going to be the Al Qaeda bomber guy… more like he was scared someone else was going to be. But still, I’d prefer that those words not be used in-flight.

And you have to ask yourself: what would I do if I were on that plane? The general consensus among myself and those I’ve talked with about this is that everything would be on the table. Mixed martial arts, biting, hair-pulling… hanging onto a leg while he drags us down the aisle… all options and very likely to be employed.

There’s video of this whole thing, by the way, taken by a passengers. It’s hard to hear what’s going on toward the front of the plane, but you can see a bunch of people standing in the aisle and leaning on their seats.


Kind of makes you realize there’s not a whole lot of room to wrestle a guy to the floor on a plane. Nothing on the little Cartoon Card O’ In-Flight Problem Solving demonstrates how to take down a deranged captain. Oh, and in case this hasn’t become, like, really, really obvious, there was no federal air marshal on this particular flight.

There was, however, an off-duty pilot deadheading back from wherever he had been. And so he went up to the cockpit and took over, landing the plane at its diversion point: the not-so-Vegasy city of Amarillo, Texas.

Once on the ground, Captain Crazypants gets taken down by the feds, all the while screaming and hollering about Iraq and Israel. Just randomly yelling out the names of countries we’re kind of allied with but sort of kind of quietly not very comfortable around. And then… and then he yells, “Oh, I’m so distraught!”

Watch and listen (sorry if there’s an ad first):


Alright, wait.

Wait… is this…?

Are you…?

Are you, like, Will Ferrell in a costume, or something?

Is Ashton Kutcher on this flight? Are we being punk’d? Who yells, “Iraq! Israel! Oh, I’m so distraught!” while actually being distraught? How is the next thing he says not “He punted Baxter!” or “Milk was a bad choice!”?

(I’m quoting Anchorman starring Will Ferrell, in case you’re completely lost. You should see it. It’s awesome. And there’s gonna be a sequel, and I’m not groaning with dread. So that’s a hearty endorsement.)

Amazingly, nobody was badly hurt in this whole endeavor, and also the plane stayed in the air until it landed completely properly and not even a little bit on fire. What are the odds that you’ll have an off-duty pilot deadheading on your flight right when an on-duty pilot loses his mind? Not very high, to my way of thinking.

Luck, be a lady tonight. Get those passengers to Vegas – every one of ’em’s gonna hit the jackpot.

When Do I Just Get To Stab Them In the Eyes?

I wish I had a way to write pretty about the ugly things that happen in life. I’m getting really tired of not really having a good way to find peace with some of those things. Call it a cross to bear, call it a fact of life, I don’t care… it shouldn’t be so hard. Some people can sit down and write a beautiful post that somehow leads them out of the dark place that makes them want to stab someone in the eyes. Random or specific target. Whichever. My point is, I can’t do that.

Pisses me off.

Actually, being angry does help me get past the hardest parts of the ugly things that happen. The problem is, for all my snark and sarcasm and all my wit and pith, I don’t really get angry very often at all. Sometimes I wish I did. Sometimes I wish I could just throw things or get all up in someone’s grill about their shoddy understanding of how to relate to another, allegedly important human being in their life. But I can’t do that.

Why is that, do you think? Because I’ve long thought it was my attempt at Christianity, my effort to treat people the way I’d like to be treated. (I fail at this a lot. Usually with people I work with and/or drive on highways with.) I’ve long thought that my tendency not to get angry was because I wanted to understand why someone would behave the way they did so that I would know if I should change something in myself. I thought it was owing to the wisdom of a friend my freshman year of high school who said, “There is no such thing as anger. It is only a bypass feeling for hurt.”

She was right. Holy crap, she was 14 and really messed up, but she was right. I can’t think of a single time in my nearly 35 years when I got angry and wasn’t actually hurt, or embarrassed, or scared, or insulted. My old friend’s teenaged moment of sagacity has stuck with me, and I’ve taken it to heart. I have examined every time when I thought I was angry and realized that I was actually one of those other things. It’s a valuable thing to know about myself. It’s very zen.

It’s also really inconvenient.

Anger helps us get over things that hurt. So I’m trying to let myself be angry right now. The zen stuff is totally not working. I don’t know if it wore off, like the smell of an air freshener when it’s been used for too long, or what, but it’s got zero effectiveness at this point. So I’m really trying to just be enraged. I keep reminding myself of why I’m pissed off. And I deserve to be. I really do. I’ve earned that. Over years and years, I’ve earned it. I’ve always pushed it away, explained it away, hurt it away, understood it away, examined it away… thinking I was taking the higher road, being my higher self, being a better person. But now, if I can embrace it, if I can hold onto it, then I can finally hurt less and cry less and maybe even think less. And want to stab someone (specific) in the eyes more.

But then I worry. I worry that letting myself get angry now will lead to a lifetime of letting myself get angry and wanting to stab (specific) people in the eyes too often. Which is not good for anybody. Nobody likes angry people. And nobody likes getting stabbed in the eyes. Stabbing someone in the eyes is not a good way to say “I love you.”

Even though that’s totally what drives you to want to stab them in the eyes. Even though they see it coming. Literally and figuratively. Or at least they should. They don’t get that. All they know is, “Oh! My eyes! My eeeyyyyyes! Why did you do that?” And you can’t say, “Because I love you.” That’s the kind of conversation that gets you on the news.

So I wonder: when is it finally okay to get angry? When is it finally okay to haul off and stab someone in the eyes?

Well, probably never for that second question. Here’s where I am with the first one so far:

There are a lot of angles to “okay.” There’s when it’s okay as in understandable, like, “Yeah, you totally have a right to be mad.” That’s generally third in line, after “Um, you’re kind of psycho right now” and “Eh, I mean, I could see it, but…” Because being kind of psycho generally means you’re being irrational about what’s making you angry. And the second thing means you might be overreacting. But after that, a lot of times you have a perfectly valid reason for your feelings. So then it’s okay to be angry.

The second angle to “okay” is when it’s okay as in acceptable. Understandable and acceptable are not the same. Just because you’re allowed doesn’t mean it’s going to be met with understanding. “You know, I totally see why you just sank that steak knife into my retina. I had that coming.” That’s what you’re going for with the second angle of “okay.”

The third angle of “okay” is when it’s okay as in not damaging to the situation. Sometimes getting angry doesn’t do you any good. It gets in the way. It interferes with what really needs to be done. You can’t get angry until it’s actually imperative that you stab someone (specific) in the eyes.

The fourth angle of “okay” is when it’s okay as in psychologically hygienic. If getting angry and stabbing someone (specific) in the eyes will turn you into some sort of crazy person who is racked with guilt and you spend the rest of your life wondering if things could have been resolved without you stabbing them in the eyes… it’s not okay yet. If you can do it and not regret it at all, and in fact you are better afterward, then it’s okay.

That is a really disturbing rationalization that makes me wonder if I’m actually a little bit psychotic.

Moving on anyway…

The fifth angle of “okay” is when it’s okay as in the final option. You’ve tried everything else. You’ve tried helping someone understand. You’ve tried understanding where they’re coming from. You’ve tried being your higher self. You’ve tried just letting go. You’ve tried choosing your battles. You’ve tried showing love in all the ways you have ever been able to imagine, without ever saying, “This is all unconditional, but I’m also kind of trying to make a point.”

I think you have to check off all five angles before you can justifiably stab someone (specific) in the eyes. And probably more that I just don’t really have a grip on yet.

Right now I’m on Angle Three.

Can I skip any? Because here’s the trick: the next one? Four? It’s a double-edged sword. Lots of times, it’s not psychologically hygienic either way. I don’t know if I can get past Angle Four. I would definitely eventually regret the stabbing. And I would definitely wonder if somehow it was not the final option, after all. But if I don’t do it, I’m almost definitely still going to need therapy.

Life is full of difficult choices.

Somet’ing Vewwy Important

This week I spent 58.5 hours with BIL 1 and Twin Nephs. Sister 1 had surgery on Monday and then went to our parents’ house to recover a little before re-entering the world of four-year-old boys, and since my days off are during the week, I was glad things worked out so that I could help on the days BIL 1 had to be in the office. Fortunately, he doesn’t own a gun, because he says he’s pretty sure he would have shot me when I let myself into the house around 12:45am after driving straight from work. He knew I was coming, and I always let myself in, but he leapt out of bed with his eyes still half-shut, yelling something that must have meant “hello?!” and then staggering head-first into the hallway in the dark. He might have tackled me if I hadn’t figured out a quiet way to say “It’s me!” while just steps from Twin Nephs’ bedroom.

BIL 1 is kind of hilarious when he’s half-asleep.

This gig meant getting up wayyyy earlier than my childless, long-commuting, night-working self usually gets up. But that’s part of the deal, and I accept it willingly. I mean, when the boys were infants, I got up and fed them in the middle of the night during frequent visits, which, while terrible for brain circuitry, was great for bonding. But when a four-year-old comes into your room sometime a few seconds after official dawn and says he has to talk to you and it’s vewwy important, you’re pretty much never going to sleep again. Invariably, what he has to talk to you about are things like socks, and going potty, and the babysitter, and the differences between the ceiling fan in this room and the one in his room, and what color the dog is, and how his brother poked him in the eye “the last day” (aka yesterday).

He will grab your face and force you to listen intently while he speaks of these things. And that’s cute and all, and I do cherish these moments because some day these darling boys will be 13-year-old punks who will barely speak to anyone, and I need them to love me so they’ll take care of me, but… Auntie is tired. This faux-mother-and-homeowner thing is pretty exhausting. I’ve always given parents props for doing the job. I am actually very patient with kids, but while I was sitting in a rocking chair in Twin Nephs’ bedroom at something like 10:20pm one night trying to get them to actually go to sleep after spending the day cooking, cleaning and doing laundry, I remembered that I would in all likelihood become the crazy, bedraggled, snippy creature I often see dragging ass around a store with toddlers in tow if I had kids.

On Thursday evening, BIL 1 and I stood in the driveway and talked with a neighbor while her daughter played with Twin Nephs, drawing with sidewalk chalk and riding tricycles. Neph 2 managed to ride his directly into a shrub three townhouses down and get stuck. All I could see were his little feet on the little pedals, and the back wheels. He kept ringing the bell on the handlebars. Here I’d thought those bells were to warn others that they were about to be mowed down. But no; apparently, it’s a cute little distress signal. He kept ringing it and calling in a little speech-impeded voice, “Help! I ththtuck!” from somewhere in the depths of branches. After the rescue (and a protracted clean-up effort), we had dinner. And after that, we walked to get dessert at the ice cream shop.

It was all very suburban yuppie. In a sweet way.

Yesterday I was awakened at 6:46am by Neph 1, informing me of Somet’ing Vewwy Important and then climbing into my bed to not-sleep with on me while complaining that I was too warm. Every minute brought a new declaration of the time according to the digital clock on the bedside table. Something like seventeen hours later (which was somehow the same morning), after a brief fit about not wanting to go to a little boy’s birthday party, Twin Nephs climbed into the car with Daddy and off they went. I finished some laundry, packed up and took the long road trip to work. Getting home at midnight, I climbed into bed and was out within minutes. Sister 1 is back home now, hopefully not getting pounced on. She’s minus a couple of organs and up a fresh supply of Percocet. It could go either way. I have a feeling that Percocet is going to be vewwy important.

Love, Loyalty and Friendship: The Very Brief History of An Irish (American) Family

In the wee years of 1900, my father’s father’s father came across the sea to Philadelphia. So, too, did the woman who was to be his wife, a Killian. Near that time, my father’s mother’s mother arrived and somehow got mixed up with a Welshman we don’t like to talk about. He was a good man and all, and a good father, but… Welsh?

Be that as it may, they all four settled into the city in the neighborhood where the Irish were meant to be, and there they stayed for generations.

Nigh 70 years on came me.

I am Irish, indeed, somewhere ’round half-full, and my people come from Counties Cork and Kerry. My grandparents’ cousins still walk the southern hills. Years ago, my youngest aunt traveled to the Emerald Isle and found one such cousin’s home. At the gate, she asked his wife if he could come out. When he did, she near fell over.

He looked just like my grandfather.

My grandfather was of the traditional lot of sons of immigrants. Well-named and the youngest of his clan, he went to Catholic school, and grew to love a girl who admittedly had chased him since the first grade (she’d later chase him all the way to heaven). They married when he was home on leave from the war, and honeymooned for five days, partly on a train from the east coast to the west to meet my grandfather’s ship for its re-deployment from San Francisco. He was at sea when his first son was born.

My grandfather’s family had lived in a little house until they were all married off. All, except for my grandparents, who bought the house from my great-grandfather and stayed on, with my great-grandparents there as well, until the elders’ deaths. When my grandfather came home from war, after a few years of unremarkable work, he became a street cop, walking the beat in Philadelphia for 25 years from 1952 to 1977. My grandfather lived in that same little house from the age of five until 79, when the neighborhood’s change began to claim their literal fortunes and my youngest aunt bought another house and took my grandparents with her.

My father’s side of the family has always been, in a fashion typical of our blood, brashly proud of its Irish roots. Not only did we grow up on a solid diet of boiled meat and potatoes with salt and butter; we exhibit probably every character trait of an Irishman that exists. Black Irish right through the line, not a single one had eyes of brown ’til me – owing to my mother’s German heritage. My grandmother’s hair did turn strangely red as she aged, but that was due less to genetics and more to chemicals at what my grandfather routinely called “The Magic Shop.” Shamrocks speckled the decor of their home, along with Irish crafting like Lenox and the very cherished and hard-won collection of Waterford crystal in the china cabinet. A claddagh hung above the front door and decorated the fingers of my grandmother and several other members of our family.

My grandparents were of small stature, though my grandfather was known as the biggest little man on his street. That’s because of The Look, the dead-level glare he could toss in an instant when his temper had been raised. Never his voice. Only his temper, and The Look. It struck fear in the hearts of the sons who stood near a foot above his snowy head and grew twice as broad as he.

Formidable, too, was my grandmother, made from four feet and eleven inches of the strongest stuff on earth. She would tell my 6’4″ father to sit down so she could hit him. And he’d do it. When his father died, he knelt on the floor to hug her, and it put them eye to eye for the first time since he was a young boy.

My grandfather’s funeral program bore a Celtic cross on green paper. Three years later, when we bid goodbye to my grandmother, the claddagh familiar from the front door of their home once again both welcomed friends and family and silently wished a happy homegoing. But her program was pink, because she broke from tradition just enough to favor that color over most. Love, loyalty and friendship… in her trademark way.

Since my mother comes from German stock, the half-joking confrontations over national pride were storied. My father loved to poke at my mother’s mother about it, mostly because she always bit (though he would have, too, had she been the one to start it). There is a long-told story of my toddlerhood, when as I sat in my high chair, my father and my mother’s mother argued over which side I belonged to more.

“She’s German,” my grandmother pronounced.

“She’s Irish,” said my father.

It went on until, fed up, I ended it in two-year-old (stubborn from both lineages) fashion. “I not German. I not Irish. I cute!

And neither a one could argue.

My father calls St. Patrick’s Day “amateur night,” and if I don’t wear green on March 17th and people give me a hard time about it, I remind them that I’m Irish every day and have nothing to prove, though it’s really because my wardrobe holds little of it. I celebrate the date by laughing riotously about things nobody else understands, and being stubborn. And I get rather viscerally hacked off if I see someone wearing orange, since it’s greatly offensive to Irish Catholics like myself (as you may know, the Ulsters were Orangemen and opposed everything the Southern Irish Catholics ever said or did until the rivers ran red). This is why I am not a Syracuse fan.

The one way in which I’m a true disappointment to my clan is that I’m not much of a beer drinker, preferring instead vodka or wine. But last St. Patrick’s Day I had my very first Guinness and I liked it quite well. Well enough that it serves as my Facebook profile picture on this day. Well enough, in fact, that I’d love to name a dog after it, should it have the right color coat. I don’t much care whose dog it is, though best if it were mine.

My family is filled with Daniels and Patricks, down through the generations. The girls, too, bear the names of Eire, a tribute to the beauty and lure of her charms. My name is not so Irish, but for the last. But in the end, that’s what matters most to our people: Irish to the last.

Dear Readers: May you have all the happiness
and luck that life can hold…
And at the end of all your rainbows
May you find a pot of gold.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig! (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

Pretend there’s a big candle shaped like a 1 here. Oh, and a cake.

So, today I’ve been blogging for a year. I thought I came to this whole thing pretty late in the proverbial game, and most of the bloggers I read have proven me correct, because they have months and months of backstory. I am very thankful to the 72 of you who subscribe, but I wish you would all actually read my posts. My stats show that this is nowhere near the case. Please leave me a note telling me why you don’t read all my posts. Those of you who don’t leave notes will have shown yourselves. (Aha! A clever ruse to uncover the deadbeats! This is not unlike how I schemed to discover whether there really was a Santa.)

That’s no way to treat my subscribers. I’m sorry. Please read me.

I would also like to say that I have completely given up the hope of ever being Freshly Pressed. I’m fairly sure the FP gods have found some sort of dirt on me or something. Or they are chaired by my kindergarten and first grade teachers, who did not like me at all, and who may or may not still be alive, and also by my ex-boyfriend Mitch, who frankly has no room to be critical. That’s okay, though. That’s fine. That means I’ll never experience the soaring thrill of having hundreds and hundreds of hits in one day only to drop back down to mere dozens (of delightful, wonderful, faithful people who search for “tarpon” every day on the internet and find my homepage because I once wrote a post about a terrible show called When Fish Attack 2).

Seriously, you can’t believe how many people search for tarpon on any given day.

Actually, though, I did experience the thrill of hundreds of hits, twice. One time was when I wrote a post I wound up deleting because someone figured out who I was and that is a no-no here on thesinglecell.wordpress.com. So I had to kill them. It. I had to kill it. The post.

The other day that wound up being kick-ass in the stat department was March 8th.

Do you not remember what happened that day?

That was the day that 537 people searched for Karen Santorum, and 192 for Ann Romney, and somehow got my homepage. I’ve posted exactly one entry that featured photos of them. I guess that’s what triggered the magic.

I should take this opportunity to point out that the actual candidates themselves scored very, very low on my search stats. In fact, Michele Bachmann got lots more searches than anyone else, and she dropped out, like, five years ago. Her searches totaled over 200. Coming in second to her was Newt Gingrich, vis-a-vis the moon, with five.

Not a typo. With all those political posts I’ve written, not a single person who searched for any of the other candidates made their way to my blog, unless they wanted to see Mr. Gingrich and the moon.

I suppose this means I am not a leading source for information on the presidential race.

But I am a leading source on tarpon.

So that’s something.

This, I think, will be my 171st post. Some quick math tells me that means I’ve spent somewhere between 171 and 342 hours writing in the last 365 days. Hey, that’s not bad! I’m no Ernest Hemingway, but frankly, who wants to be Ernest Hemingway? That guy was pretty miserable. I’ve never aspired to be a tortured soul writing to exorcise demons. That just happens by accident sometimes.

Also, a good portion of those hours may have been spent searching Google Images for pictures to steal and put in my posts, and/or fight with over being my featured image, as Dan Bain over at bainwaves.wordpress.com can attest, if he’s not dead.

Sometimes I wish I could tag people in posts like they do on Facebook. Or poke them.

In actual fact, I spend eight hours a day writing at work in some form or fashion (I’m omitting the hours I spend staring at the screen, either trying to make sense out of something senseless that someone else has written, or waiting for someone else to finish their part of the project). But that’s really not a ton of fun, so this blog began as a chance to stretch my writing muscles, to be completely inconsistent and post on whatever I darn well please on any given day. Or not at all. Whether its working, I suppose, is best left to my readers. Don’t ask the Freshly Pressed judges.

And I guess I should also apologize for the posts that sucked. I know there are some real duds in here. Mea culpa.

So on this, my first blogoversary, I thank all of you who have read, commented, liked, ranted, loved, hated, thought about, agreed with, completely vehemently and potentially violently disagreed with, condemned, beatified, and/or otherwise reacted in any way to my writing at any time over the last year. I look forward to seeing you every day, and I’ve truly enjoyed reading almost all of what I’ve read from other writers since I started this escapade last Ides of March.

I don’t think I picked that date on purpose. But you can’t say you weren’t warned.

Live In Concert: Me. In My Car.

One of the best things about my schlep to work is that, when the weather is nice, I get to rock out for a whole hour. I don’t really do that when the weather is crappy or when it’s cold. I tend to be more subdued in those conditions, but if it’s warm and spring-like and sunny, look out. I’m crankin’ up some Springsteen and we’re gonna car-dance. Pushin’ 75 on the highway with one hand on the wheel. We’re ridin’ out tonight to case the promised land.

You cannot NOT rock out to that song. I’m sorry. You just can’t.

Yesterday was such a day. Except it wasn’t Springsteen, because I’d done that twice and needed to change things up. So I pulled out a mix CD (yes, I listen to CDs… my car doesn’t have an MP3 system). It’s a pretty damned good mix, I don’t mind telling you. From mile three of my trip, my fellow drivers were treated to a Car Star.

I was moving from the opening measure of Annie Lennox’s “Ghost In My Machine.” Head bobbing, I motored onto the beltway. By my first lane change, I was belting out the lyrics. Mouth wide open. Window down. Inhibitions rendered non-existent. The Stones’ “Satisfaction” only served to up the attitude and the volume, and my left leg jangled because I got the moves like Jagger. Until Janis’ “Me and Bobby McGee” brought a more thoughtful and subdued but no less superstar beat. I skipped Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” on the grounds that it’s too depressing, even though it’s a fabulous recording done in 2000, decades and a lifetime after her first version, and offering a tremendous bookend to the original, youthful recording. The 2000 version makes a listener smile because her voice has aged with her mind and her soul and it’s clear now that she really knows what she’s singing.

So, yeah, skipped that. Moved right on to the next jammer, wind in my hair.

That’s a lie. I rolled up the window because the road noise was too loud and turned on the air conditioning instead.

So, fine. Moved right on to the next jammer, air conditioning in my hair.

There is nothing that makes you feel quite as good as a car concert. When you can release your inner rock god or goddess, pour out some energy and use your hour-long commute for a purpose that lifts your spirits before you resign yourself to a windowless basement for the next eight or nine hours, you do yourself a solid that helps to keep you going when you don’t have half enough coworkers to complete a project in any sane way and yet are still required to make all your daily deadlines without exception, excuse or error. It keeps you up when you’d rather bind and gag your constantly yelling, beat-boxing, open-mouthed chip-chomping, singing, swearing coworker and wheel him in his chair to another room and leave him there in the dark. It keeps you positive when a micro-managing temporary supervisor who has the same job as you any other day of the week stands breathing down your neck waiting for your TPS reports.

That was an “Office Space” reference.

I believe you have my stapler…? It’s a Swingline…?

When work is done and it’s super-late at night, the car concert doesn’t happen. Instead I listen to NPR or C-SPAN radio all the way home, learning stuff. Lower the lights, take it down a little bit. Make sweet sweet love to my mind.

I know. My idea of mind-love-making is… um… disappointing.

But today? If the sun is shining and the weather is warm, You had better expect to see me boppin’ down the highway, loud and proud. Mock me if you will. Move along. I got this.

Incidentally, you might have noticed that a good many of the songs on my Car Concert Mix CD are quite old. In fact, they all are. Let me give you the full playlist. Keep in mind I’m a girl:

“Ghost In My Machine” – Annie Lennox
“Satisfaction” – Rolling Stones
“Me and Bobby McGee” – Janis Joplin
“Both Sides Now” – Joni Mitchell
“Passionate Kisses” – Mary Chapin Carpenter
“Have A Little Faith” – John Hiatt
“The World I Know” – Collective Soul
“Einstein On the Beach” – Counting Crows
“Old Love” – Eric Clapton
“Dreams” – The Cranberries
“Breathless” – The Corrs
“Personal” – Fergie
“Natural Woman” – Aretha Franklin
“It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” – REM
“Home” – Michael Buble’
“Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley
“The Rising” – Bruce Springsteen

Given this list, leave me suggestions for any music newer than, oh, 2005, that you think I’d like. I’m already on the Adele thing. DO NOT give me country.


The Time Change Did It. Probably.

I’m not one of those people who gets all mad when we have to change clocks twice a year. I mean, I kind of get a little put out by losing an hour of daylight when we Fall Back. But I love fall and we get an extra hour of sleep then, so it’s all good. And then when we Spring Ahead (or Forward, depending on your preferred colloquialism), I figure it’s just the payment for the Fall Back. It’s only fair.

Also you get to check your smoke detectors. I checked mine. Yup – it’s still lying, disabled, on the nightstand in the spare bedroom after the December Debacle.

I suppose there was a harbinger, since I didn’t think we sprung ahead until Sunday-Monday. Fortunately, someone at work reminded me. When I got home a little after midnight Saturday-Sunday, it was sort of actually, not officially or body-clock-wise, but for all intents and purposes, a little after 1am. As a responsible adult (dammit), I knew this meant I couldn’t have a nightcap. Instead, I changed all the clocks that wouldn’t change by themselves – why do I have six clocks in my two-bedroom apartment, by the way?- and read a lovely bedtime story about Nazis for a while until I was tired enough to go to sleep, which was actually 1:45am but in the New World Order had magically become 2:45am. But only in the Eastern time zone. And I got up at 10.

Or was it 9?

Anyway, I got up when I was supposed to so I could go do all the stuff I have to do on Sundays, like sing at Mass and then get gas and go home and get changed and eat and do a final edit on my blog post for the day and post and get my dinner together and leave for work and then actually work.

I thought I had it. I was awake. I had slept mostly okay. Contrary to most of my life, I wasn’t even running late. My clothes were more or less in the right places on my body. I was good.

Then I put lip gloss under my eye instead of concealer.


I blamed it on the fact that the lip gloss tube is shaped so much like the concealer tube, even though I had a mirror in front of my face as I did it. And despite that mirror in front of my face, I didn’t realize I’d streaked gloss under my eye until I tried to blend it with my finger.

* Eyes and brain not synched to same Realization Setting * Flux capacitor not fluxing * *Abort * Abort *

Apparently, I wanted to hide my dark circles with Rimmel’s Endless Night Stay Glossy Gloss. Endless Night is exactly what you want to remove from under your eyes, commonly. (Aside: you’d think “Endless Night” would be black as all get-out, but in fact it’s a lovely shade of pinkish-brown or whatever. I don’t know. The company is British. Those people love irony.)

The tube says it’s made to last up to six hours (“up to” meaning “anywhere from immediately after application to six hours after if you don’t move your mouth or eat or drink anything”). But it wiped right off from under my eye, and I didn’t have time to contemplate the contradiction, so I proceeded with my day.

Do you ever wonder why preceded and proceeded are not spelled more similarly? I always have to look those up.


My commute.

I did the church thing and I did the home thing and I did the get changed and go to work thing and I was only 18 minutes late (or 42 minutes early), but then I kind of always am a little late since my commute is 50 miles one-way and is not unlike a Japanese game show with various unpredictable obstacles and/or giant body-smacking rubber hands jumping out in front of me. I was also late because I had to get my dinner together, which required making a salad… hello?... washing and chopping things takes time, people. But it’s important to be healthy, I decided as I nommed on six Keebler Deluxe Grahams (best when refrigerated) and cut and wrapped a brownie from the baking dish so I wouldn’t be compelled to buy something from the vending machine for after dinner. And then I had to find a bag that was big enough to carry the containers my dinner was in.

I mean, I was basically exhausted by the time I got to the car.

At work, I was a machine. I was on fire. I was churning out project elements like it was my job.


With five minutes until my first deadline, I had one more element to do and I was concerned because some parts of it had to be done by someone else, and they weren’t in the file yet. I banged out as much as I could, sent a message to my co-worker that my part was there for review, repeatedly checked the file to see if the other co-worker had saved his part yet, and then looked at the clock.

I checked several clocks, actually, because we usually don’t have it that together at work and there’s almost always at least one clock that’s an hour off, from some time two years ago when it got changed for one season and never again for another.

It was, in fact, an hour and five minutes before deadline.

Apparently, I sprang forward two hours instead of one.

Now I was bored, and recovering from an unnecessary panic attack.

When it was time for dinner, I scarfed down my food like I had something to look forward to or get to. I was in a hurry, like there was a reward at the end. I kept thinking there was something next. But there wasn’t. There was only working. So I chilled out, only to find myself feeling behind at 8pm.

I wondered if I’d been dosed with propofol again.

But I got everything done… and only got thrown off once when I realized we’d left out a pretty important element. I was glad I could have the nightcap when I got home this time.

KONY 2012

There are new ways to wage wars.

The Arab Spring has shown us that social media can be used for a power greater than gossip or banality.

The link below will take you to a powerful piece of production. Production value sometimes makes us trust the message less. “How is it so slick,” we ask, “if it’s so dire?”

But if you can suspend that for 30 minutes, if you can give that time, you will understand so much more.





You will learn who Joseph Kony is and what he is doing. You will wonder how it’s even possible.



If you think it does not merit involvement, your sentiment will not be without precedent.



You cannot un-know.


Make Joseph Kony famous.


Super Tuesday: Why Did It Matter?

In case anyone is wondering: yes, I did stay up until 2am watching CNN’s primary returns. Why 2am? I don’t know. Ohio was dispensed with by around 12:45. I’m just a junkie. Plus I enjoy casting imaginary films about pundits and analysts. I’ve decided that Kevin Spacey will play Ari Fleischer.

Kevin Spacey...

...Ari Fleischer

Also I might have fallen asleep for a little while.

So! Who cares about Super Tuesday, right? What difference does it make? Jack sent me a text last night pretty much asking that. “None of these clowns stand a snowball’s chance in Sarasota against Obama,” he told me. Jack thinks he’s funny. He just got back from Sarasota. It was warm and beautiful and he likes to rub that in. Now, Jack is more on the conservative side and not at all on the politically interested side, but he engages me sometimes for the sake of amusement. And of course, I replied that he’s correct. Mitt Romney has proven time and time again that he can’t seal the deal on anything with ease, and that’s really what you look for at this stage in the game. And while Rick Santorum has been surprisingly successful, it’s still really hard to fathom him as the nominee. And if he were, there’s pretty much… well, not a snowball’s chance in Sarasota that he’d win. So why was Super Tuesday so compelling that nerds like yours truly stayed up so late?

Because this campaign has the potential to redefine the Republican Party.

For a long time, Republicans have been about defense and getting the government off your back. Allegedly. Mostly the defense part. In the last 20 years or so, the party (led by whatever president was there – so, Bush I and Bush II) has spent more, bugged people more (particularly at very inappropriate times, in their bedrooms) and gone a little war-crazy.  But now? Now we’ve got Santorum and Gingrich, to some extent, telling you that not only are you prohibited from being gay and happy (which used to be synonymous), or gay and a service member; you also can’t determine your own desire or ability to be a parent. Nor can you take as a given that the government will not base its laws on religious belief. Nor is it appropriate for everyone to aspire to a four-year college degree. Nor, apparently, can you be a woman who wants to serve on the front lines in defense of her nation.

You might get emotional. And the boys might feel all protective of you. That would be new, since none of them ever risked their own lives to drag another man out of the line of fire. I guess the guy who thanked my uncle for saving him in Vietnam made up that story. And none of the men who came home from war in the last 236 years ever got a little weirded out or upset on the battlefield. And of course they’ve all been just fine and dandy upon their return.

It’s different with the womenfolk.


My point is, with the longevity of the Tea Party (they say they’re not “just” Republican, but that’s largely a load of crap), the strength of Santorum’s momentum and the unrelenting, if aggravating, presence of Newt Gingrich, the Republican Party is showing that it might be ready to move farther to the right. Like, back to the social constructs of the 40s and 50s, when women who did anything other than stay home and make babies within the church-blessed bond of marriage were sluts and prostitutes.

Ah, those were the days.

And lest you think that the Republican candidates for president soundly criticized that Radio Host Who Shall Not Be Named’s absolutely ridiculous and rancorous days-long rant similar to above against a law school student, let me remind you:

Newt Gingrich said he was pleased when the radio host apologized, but called the overall controversy “silly” and said to NBC’s David Gregory, “You know, David, I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the President’s apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid a trillion-dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression, and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of this week.”

Nevermind how much I hate this man’s constant bitching about the “elite” media that carries his message to the masses (and he should check the definition of “elite”… it means “best.” I think he means “elitist,” which carries the connotation I believe he intends). I can appreciate wanting to get the national conversation back on track with the issues he wants to discuss, but I cannot appreciate anything less than an absolute condemnation of said radio host’s comments.

Rick Santorum said the radio host was being “absurd, but entertainers are allowed to be absurd.” Not incorrect… but not exactly a reprimand.

Mitt Romney said, “It’s not the language I would have used.” That’s just pathetic.

Ron Paul, himself an obstetrician and gynecologist who knows very well that contraception is far from just being about sex, called the radio host’s comments “over the top,” and went a step further, becoming the only candidate to call the eventual apology what it really is: “He’s doing it because some people were taking their advertisements off his program. It was his bottom line he was concerned about. I don’t think he’s very apologetic. It’s in his best interest. That’s why he did it.”

Thank you, Congressman Paul. You have demonstrated yet one more time that you are not a Republican. The Republicans are scared to go toe-to-toe with the radio host.

But, singlecell, haven’t you digressed a bit from Super Tuesday?

No. No, I have not. What Super Tuesday proved was that Mitt Romney is still the presumptive nominee, but he still couldn’t get the job done convincingly, and while he has far more delegates than the second-place Santorum, Santorum is connecting with people more.

Romney isn’t a connector. He believes in nothing that gets people fired up (aside from those who attend his rallies, who are obviously already going to vote for him). Santorum gets people’s passions ignited. It just so happens that those passions tend to involve taking choices away from women and blatantly denying a separation between Church and State. There are people who agree with him. And that’s alright. If the majority of people in the Republican Party agree with him, they’ll nominate him. If the majority of Americans agree, they’ll elect him president.

You’ll excuse me if I move to France, then.

Paris... liberte', egalite'...

Yes, I said France. Mostly to piss off Santorum. And my mother.

And by the way, an aversion to Rick Santorum does not automatically translate to support of abortion, or support of anarchy, or amorality, or immorality. It simply translates to a view of America as a nation that does not tell its people what they can and cannot do with their bodies and in their bedrooms and with their beliefs. It translates to a view that lets people’s individual beliefs dictate their actions in areas of connection to religious principle.

But as Santorum continues to succeed, the Republican Party has to consider that his message is resonating with its members. I think the party’s players are resisting that shift. But last night, as we all (okay, just me and some other nerdy nerds) waited anxiously to hear which way the tight race in all-important Ohio would go, the party must have gotten that message, loud and clear.

New York State of Mind

I’ve never loved New York. I like it, for about three days at a time. It’s not a place I’ve ever found to be hospitable.  It’s not a city that troubles itself with your happiness.

I find it to be a place crowded with lonely people, moving together en masse, headed toward meetings or lunches or subways or home, caught in a tangle of moods and schedules and left to feel superfluous if one life’s pace doesn’t match another’s.

When I came up to ground level at 59th and Columbus Circle, the day was typical New York: raw, damp and gray, the color of fattened pigeons. I realized this was part of my New York construct – I’ve never been there during “nice” weather. I put my hands in my pockets and headed east across the bottom edge of Central Park. With my messenger bag slung over my shoulder, its strap crossing my chest, I was on my way to meet a former coworker for lunch on the Upper East Side.

When I made it to 1st Avenue, the Queensboro Bridge rose ahead of me, and I felt like I was on the edge of the world. I’d never been to this stretch of the city, looking at the lanes that take so many people out of the center of the universe and over to a somewhat marginalized borough. I’d been to Queens, once, but I’d been carried by a subway, left unaware of the terrain from Manhattan’s perspective.

When my friend’s lunch hour was up, I walked down to 53rd and 5th and headed into the Museum of Modern Art. My messenger bag checked as required, I wandered unburdened and unattached. I am not generally an audience for modern art, so I didn’t know what to approach. My first exhibit was a media work about the impact of the Iraq war. I listened and watched while video presentations brought me the thoughts of the artists, apparently read aloud by actors. Some seemed to be reading the material for the first time. I don’t take well to presentations roughened by missteps in the language and struggles to find the sense in a sentence, to static shots of ill-prepared participants. I only spent about 20 minutes in the room. I needed to see something that seemed complete.

Eugene Atget, 1857 - 1927, from Documents pour Artistes, Museum of Modern Art, NY

The photography exhibits were much more my style, and I perused wall after wall, reading the small bits of posted information, always wishing for more: who is this woman? what is she doing? why did the photographer take this picture? Absent a story, I felt separated from the image, disconnected despite wanting to be engaged. Was it me? Was I missing something?

On the sixth floor was a new and much talked-about exhibit from Cindy Sherman. She has

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #1531

been taking photos, almost entirely of herself, for decades. She uses the shots as a kind of forceful satire, a statement on who women are, who we want to be, who others see or want to see when they look at us or imagine us. The realizations, for me, came slowly. She takes all these photos herself, in her home studio. But you’d never know it. You’d think someone else took them, of her, as she lay in a bed looking unsettled, or sat in a chair dripping old money, or cowered in a gutter as though someone had dumped her there, full of gravel and damp. The costumes, the makeup, the wigs, the scenery… it must have taken hours on end to set up each photo. And there are hundreds. To dedicate so many years and so much time to telling the story of human identity and expectation was astounding. But it seemed like such an isolating pursuit. Did she ever leave the house without the intention of finding a piece of clothing for the photos?

I headed down to Times Square to meet Joey at his office. His newest off-Broadway play was running in SoHo, and it was the reason for my visit. We talked about the reviews as we rode the subway and then walked to the restaurant for dinner – a tiny Italian place, because Joey had declared a need for carbs – further indication that the reviews were bothering him. He told me that he hasn’t wanted a drink so badly in a long time.

Before the small house opened, I talked with a couple of Joey’s friends, one a slightly affected book publicist and the other an eager soon-to-be graduate of our alma mater, finishing his internship at a casting agency in the city and headed back to Ohio in two days. He was constantly smiling and nodding, hoping for acceptance and inclusion, the midwestern gay 22-year-old excitedly on the fringe of the life he hoped for, but would likely never truly lead. Musical theater majors who exude only the act of confidence almost never make it. I felt for the years of struggle he had ahead, even as I knew he needed them to temper his youthful enthusiasm.

Joey sat turned away from me, curled into the corner of the seat next to mine, as the actors gave life to his words. Knowing the play, knowing its genesis, its well-hidden roots in Joey’s late younger brothers, I found myself pleased by one actor and disappointed by another as they embodied the lines I had read. The play took much longer to watch than to read, despite the lines delivered in that hot-on-the-heels manner typical of so many productions I’ve seen. I wondered at the phenomenon of time.

When it ended, the small audience gave hearty applause and the cast took two quick ensemble bows before leaving the stage for good. Joey gave my shoulder a squeeze as he went to the little lobby to tend to the politics of playwrights. As I made my way there myself, I flashed back to the first reading of his work I’d attended, in the basement of our college campus center. This seemed so much the same. No matter how much small theater I see, I think I will always be a little surprised by the smallness. I think I will always expect grander houses for plays deemed worthy of an off-Broadway label. I think I will always wonder how frustrating it must be to spend what one hopes will flourish as a body of work, playing in sporadic runs to houses of 25. I never could have done it. It’s not that it isn’t honest art; it’s that it’s so much work that’s barely seen.

On the train to Brooklyn, Joey told me he was going to take a break this summer. No writing. He said he was thinking of giving it up. “I’m making no money at it,” he said, “and it’s so demanding, and for what? These tiny audiences and bad reviews?” The reviews were not bad; they merely made assumptions about Joey’s intentions and then dismantled them. Joey’s whole life has been geared toward this work, and I couldn’t imagine him giving it up. I don’t believe he will, but I understood his existential debate. Writers write to be heard. It matters. Without it, there’s only the tedium of finding the right words, and turning them loose to echo into empty space.

Tea Lounge, Park Slope, Brooklyn

I woke to a quiet morning in a borough where I’d never been, comfortable in a big, soft bed. The window looked out on a half-full lot of jalopy cars and unused delivery trucks tagged with spray paint. The sky stretched out gray and solid. I had lunch with Joey’s mother Mary Ann and her partner George, just in from Ohio with plans to see the play themselves. After, I had a few hours to kill until I needed to catch the R train back to Manhattan and connect with the PATH train to Hoboken to visit Brad, Carrie and Max before hopping Amtrak for home. I was weary as I walked a few blocks to a coffee shop where I would sit and write this post by hand. My shoulders ached from the messenger bag, and my thighs were numbed from the damp, chilly air. In the coffee shop, I listened to four women talk about a community effort to do something with their kids, the group of them a personification of desired diversity: two African-American, one Asian, one white, older and odd. Hers was the highest enthusiasm level and wordiest support, full of catchphrases that brand the Borough Mom. I wrote, in my own world, while listening to worlds turn around me, and once again felt the tinge of isolation amid a crowd. It is the tinge I always feel at the thought of eight million hearts beating on a concrete island.