Tag Archives: xme

“Do you want a banana?”

“No banana.”

“Do you want an apple?”

“No appoh.”

“Do you want turkey?”

“No tookey.”

{Stops. Thinks.} “Do you want Hillary Clinton?”

“No Hiyary Kyinton.”

“That’s my girl.”

Category: Home

It’s no fun dealing with a sick dog, which is one of the things that we’ve had to deal with lately.

Even when healthy, Lisby lays around the house a lot. So it’s not always easy to tell when she isn’t well. In this case, the illness took the form of an inflexible bladder. It first started by waking up in the morning and finding a puddle on the carpet. Then it started seeming like we were having to take her out and awful lot. It got really bad when I would ask her if she needed to go out, I’d start getting my shoes on, then she would just pee on the floor while I was doing so. (As near as I could tell, saying “outside” caused her to relax her bladder… which left her unable to hold it for even a couple minutes.)

By the Sunday, she was vomiting and her lack of energy had become really evident. She’d become seriously dehydrated.

It turned out to be a bladder infection (we’re pretty sure). It took quite a while for her to rebound, but she did.

What’s kind of funny is how much having both a dog and a little one prepares you for the handling of a lot of urine-related issues.

Especially little Lain.

naturesmiracleWe had a lot of difficult getting Lain to sleep at night, and one of the things we relied on was milk and later water. The problem with this was that she would overwhelm her diaper. Even if I changed her diaper at three in the morning, by morning it would be overwhelmed again. Dealing with extant urine had become a part of life. That situation resolved a few months ago, but dealing with Lisby gave me flashbacks, as I was setting my alarm for three in the morning to take the dog out.

The good news is tha the solution for all of the above is about the same. When we first got Lisby, one of the things I immediately got was some urine-cleaning solution. Turns out, it works for baby urine, too! And spilled soft drinks.

Category: Home

In six months, dad, you’re probably going to lose your kids for good. I think you do suspect this, but won’t admit it to yourself. And you don’t want me to tell you why. They’ve been gone a year already, yet you don’t really want to know why.

I can tell this because you make it extremely unpleasant to interact with you. That is what scammers do. When you’re in a situation where you have some power, this may be very effective. It’s called bullying. People want to avoid the conflict, so maybe they get nervous and don’t scrutinize you appropriately, and your bad check or stolen credit card is accepted. Or maybe they give you the refund you want, even without the required receipt, so you’ll go away. But you are not in a one-on-one conflict. Your adversaries are not your equals, and they have very little duty toward you. You are fighting a court and a powerful government agency, backed closely by the police. Your arguments are worth nothing against that. And I’m your only friend in the fight. You shouldn’t want to make me avoid you.

Yet you make it miserable to talk with you, so I do the minimum. I’m just your lawyer; all I have to do is give you adequate legal advice and make sure you don’t get screwed legally. You decide what to do with that. Confronting you with stuff about yourself that you don’t want to hear, well, that goes beyond adequate. I didn’t have the energy or the time yesterday to deal with you arguing and yelling at me for an hour, which is the minimum it would have taken to have even a small chance of getting this through to you. So I’m in that gray area where I know I did my job, butI still feel bad because I know you’ll still fail. I don’t like my clients to lose, even when they’re assholes.

And that is the number one reason why the social worker will not recommend you getting your kids back and the court will follow that recommendation, regardless of what your lawyer argues at trial, regardless of what complaints about the system you have when you take the stand against your lawyer’s advice and ramble on over sustained objections. ( “Motion to strike after ‘Yes.'” “Sustained. SUSTAINED. That means the witness needs to STOP TALKING.” Bailiff approaches menacingly.)

There are a few reasons, and they build on each other to create something we call the totality of circumstances. In summary:

1) You’re a hothead.

2) You’re a hothead who smokes pot.

3) You’re a hothead who smokes pot and has a criminal background, and misses lots of drug tests and skips lots of scheduled visits with your kids because of things that are always someone else’s fault, and is 30 and has never held a job, and has absolutely no shame about telling a social worker that you need your children back so you can get the welfare turned back on. You make this demand to a social worker in your children’s mother’s publicly subsidized Section 8 apartment, where you shamelessly acknowledge that you live illegally because your criminal background precludes you from living there, but there’s no way anyone’s gonna come between you and her. NO WAY! GOT THAT? And during this conversation, your video game station is turned on. Yes, you have a video game system, a newish one, while you are moaning that you have to sell plasma to get by and have no time to do your weekly drug tests and visit your kids AND go to rehab classes three days a week.

If that’s too complicated, I’ll boil it down further: You are the kind of person that taxpaying citizens consider the scum of the earth. When you’re that kind of person, you don’t get to smoke marijuana and parent, even though the voters of California have (graciously! compassionately!) empowered a doctor to defy federal law and grant you a certificate that protects you from criminal conviction for possession (and he/she can do this for virtually any ailment you claim, even if it’s something ridiculous like having eating problems when you’re obviously obese).

And your children are under the control of a system that can, and does, kick parents like that out of their children’s lives permanently. Even when the kids love them and want to go home, like yours do. Under the law, you don’t have to beat your kids to lose them. You just have to be, well, crappy. Legally, it’s called “the nexus,” meaning a connection between substance use and risk of harm to the children. But what the nexus often means is, “you’re crappy, so you don’t get to.”

General crappiness, coupled with almost any illegal activity or use of a mind-altering substance, is enough. That’s the real trouble with medical marijuana. It’s not the bulletproof vest people think it is, not when you have kids. And that’s the problem with you, dad. You either can’t see, or refuse to see, that you’re one of those people whose ice is too thin to stomp around on. I wish I could figure out how to explain it so you’d understand. Lots of crappy people love their kids, and their kids love them back. But the law won’t protect both your family, and your way of life.

Category: Elsewhere

It’s pretty cool that we’ve advanced to the point where a 40-year-old woman can still make it as a bimbo. It’s great that I’m able to have this argument without being accused of being an old hag picking on some 25-year-old. Lara Logan is 40!

Society, medical care, nutrition, and makeup sure have come a long way.

Category: Elsewhere

Please, commenters, criticism should be informed of the entire post and supporting links. I refuse to be exhausted by repetition. Comments that force me to repeat prior statements, or that are personally abusive, or that praise her without adding to the debate, will be deleted. Those are all typical tricks of the crazed (male) Logan fans who scan the Internet for criticism of her. I left the No. 2 comment up as a good example.

Finally got around to reading the transcript of Lara Logan’s CBS “60 Minutes” interview about her alleged, fishy “brutal and sustained sexual assault” in Tahrir Square. Sorry, I’ve got kids. They take up time. And I knew this would really piss me off. It’s even worse than I thought. Lara Logan is cold scheming evil, in a “To Die For”/”Wild Things” kind of way.

Before I get to the worst con she’s pulled, by the way, know who doesn’t have kids? Lara Logan. She has one child. [Edit: A kind commenter draws my attention to the fact that her Wikipedia bio is not up to date, and she apparently popped out two kids one year after the other. She must have an indulgent boss. The facts as to her adulterous, suspiciously well-timed “accidental” pregnancy, however, are correct.] So why did she keep going on how she kept thinking of her “children”during this unwitnessed (and counter-witnessed!), so-called brutal sexual attack? Well, you see, Logan has a stepdaughter. When Logan got pregnant with her one and only child, her current husband was married to another woman. That’s the woman whose husband she stole’s child, not Logan’s. That girl’s mother is still alive, you know, notwithstanding that when she got the news of Logan’s very convenient “accidental” pregnancy (yeah, sure, a childless late-30s professional having an affair with a married man gets “accidentally” pregnant with his baby she keeps) she reportedly went to the hospital with an overdose. I wonder how that poor woman feels watching this cheater claim her daughter on national TV. The underling reporter who did the interview surely knew Logan’s biographical details, so when he said “your daughter and your son,” that had to be at her instruction.

Such a well-timed interview, so well-calculated for one last big burst of public sympathy and publicity. Done just when Logan’s first fix of publicity had died down, and she’d almost been eclipsed by real, honest reporter/assault victims like Lynsey Addario. No Obama phone call for Addario, though. No poster-girl status. And … not a single person questioning or disputing Addario’s credible, unsensationalized account of her mistreatment at the hands of her Libyan captors. And conveniently done just as Logan, whose only real professional asset is her appearance, turns 40 — getting very close to the age of the superior but older female reporter who was fired for her several years ago. Suddenly, women feel we have to sympathize with Logan.

Frankly, it’s scary that CBS would let this go on. What happened to critical reporting? What happened to “If your mother says she loves, you, check it out?” It just doesn’t seem to matter that there were eyewitnesses who dispute Logan’s account — and, more importantly, three months later, still not a single witness who supports it other than Logan herself. Not one supporting witness to support her claim that there was a 20 to 30 minute attack where chunks of hair were ripped out of her scalp, she was raped with hands (as she put it), and stripped naked in public. The only witnesses to any harassment at all, ironically, were people who said it didn’t appear that much was going on, at worst she may have been groped over her clothes, and she was protected by a chain of male volunteers. There were no women around when she got to the soldiers. Even without the disputing witness acounts, Logan’s counter-story just sounds like so much melodramatic Hollywood hogwash:

Logan: And I almost fell into the lap of this woman on the ground who was head to toe in black, just her eyes, I remember just her eyes, I could see.

Pelley: Wearing a chador.

Logan: Yes. And she put her arms around me. And oh my God, I can’t tell you what that moment was like for me. I wasn’t safe yet, because the mob was still trying to get at me. But now it wasn’t just about me anymore. It was about their women and that was what saved me, I think. The women kind of closed ranks around me.

Where are these saintly female saviors? How come there weren’t any witnesses interviewed for this segment, except a brief bit from her producer, who doesn’t seem to provide any support for the story except that Logan seemed very upset, like a “rag doll”? Why don’t we get to hear from “Ray,” the former special forces security guy who should be able to support her account of being stripped naked? All we get is Logan’s interviewer commenting that “Ray” said her sleeve was torn from her coat (probably by Ray himself, because he was supposedly holding that sleeve in a death grip). And how is it no one claims to have seen those cell phone photos Logan claims people were taking? Where is anyone who witnessed or took part in this gory, protracted attack and dramatic rescue?

Why did Scott Pelley ask Logan absolutely nothing about the fact that eyewitness accounts seem to dispute her story? It would have been so easy, and it could have been done without being mean. “You’ve probably heard that there were others in the square who claim they saw you there, and that it didn’t seem to them you were being sexually attacked.” I mean, they don’t have to actually interview Mexican photojournalist Temoris Grecko (and here’s his response to her interview, as well as to her crazed fans who wanted his head on a platter for reporting what he and others saw), but at least ask Logan something that gives her a chance to respond to his account of the incident, and the accounts of other eyewitnesses he quoted. It’s irresponsible not to give someone a chance to respond to that. Unless you know they don’t have a decent response.

Logan isn’t brave. She was treated with kid gloves in this interview, just as she’s been treated with kid gloves across the media. There’s nothing brave about a press release, and there’s nothing brave about keeping quiet for three months while the people you conned wring their hands over you, then telling your story your way to someone who won’t question a damned thing. It’s the most cowardly way she could have handled it. It’s the way someone acts when they’re lying.

Yes, Logan conned me and is still conning a lot of other people, and I’m frothing mad about it. So let’s go to someone who can discuss this unemotionally: “DC Dave,” (I found him at Female Faust’s post on the subject. We women do get emotional about sexual assault.) here:

Filming and reporting had gone just fine for about an hour before the camera battery went down, we are told for the first time. This is a convenient way of dealing with my question in part 1 as to why we had not been shown any pictures of what happened subsequent to the one picture we have been shown over and over of Logan looking concerned in the crowd’s midst. [Sheila says: I disagree that she looked concerned in that photo, she had a small smile and just appeared to be looking at something.]

They may have addressed the one-photo criticism—however implausibly—but they provide no explanation for their four-day reporting delay. They also have no explanation for the last-minute redundant coverage of the Tahrir Square celebration by 60 Minutes in this era of financial hardship by the news networks. CBS already had its live coverage of the event. What was the 60 Minutes story to have been in the absence of the “sexual assault?”

They do have an explanation as to how the group of rescuing Egyptian women came upon the scene. The attacking melee was somehow “swept along” until it encountered this knot of local women in the crowd. Only then, we are told, did things begin to change for the better.

What really cries out for better explanation in this new version of events is how the six-man crew failed so utterly to protect Logan. Before, with the “got separated” story, one could imagine terrible things perhaps happening to Logan that the crew knew nothing about. The scene as now painted, though, has the menace arriving with their full knowledge, and Logan, the one person the crew was there to guard, was somehow culled out by the mob. Had I been interviewing McClellan I would not have wanted so much to hear about Logan’s wounds; I would have wanted to hear about his wounds.

It is perhaps significant that the producer of this latest 60 Minutes piece was none other than Robert Anderson. This is the same person who, in the Vince Foster case, put the following complete lie into the mouth of Mike Wallace: “The forensic evidence shows that the fatal bullet had been fired into Foster’s mouth from the gun found in Foster’s hand and that Foster’s thumb had pulled the trigger.” (See the appendix to Part 6 of “America’s Dreyfus Affair.”)

Notice the contrast in journalistic professionalism between this account and what we have been told by CBS and the Murdoch news organs. Grecko names his witnesses and tells you something about each, making it easier to check his story out. CBS didn’t even give us the name of the hospital in New York City where Logan was supposedly sent for several days. It certainly makes you wonder if there really was any such hospital to name.

If [Temoris] Grecko’s is the correct account, which to this observer has a much greater ring of truth, what CBS did with its four-day reporting delay was not to hatch a story out of whole cloth, but to figure out a way to put their propaganda spin on the story. The real story would have done nothing for the larger mission of the U.S. mainstream press, which these days no doubt includes addressing the growing Zionist propaganda crisis …

My favorite line is the last:

A human chain of young men protecting the mildly harassed accused Israeli agent, Lara Logan, just wouldn’t do.

But it looks like Logan and CBS will all get away with it. The story tells too many people what they want to believe.

And that’s why CBS won’t fire her, even if a big media outlet finally picks up the real story and she’s exposed. Her superiors were in on it.

Category: Elsewhere

It looks like the fishy CBS press release about Lara Logan’s “brutal and sustained sexual assault” was indeed a lie. Finally, we have an account from some actual witnesses. Temoris Grecko blogged about what he and others saw:

I was buying tea from a vendor in Tahrir with two friends, Amr Fekry, a 26 year old Egyptian call center agent, and Andi Walden, a San Francisco political science student. Then we heard the noise and saw the mob coming. A blonde woman, neatly dressed with a white coat, was being dragged and pushed. It didn’t seem to me she was panicking, but rather trying to control the situation. They passed us in an moment. They were yelling “agent!, agent!”

I tried to run to intervene, but some Egyptians I didn’t know prevented me from doing it. There was nothing I could do and, as a foreign journalist, I’d surely end up being accused of being an agent too, and attacked. Fekry did go there and dissapeared into the crowd, 50 or 100 people strong.

Later I spoke with two young male activists who helped the person I later learned was Lara Logan (I didn’t know her before, I don’t usually follow US networks). They were Omar El Shennawy, a 21 year old teacher of English, and Abdulrahman Elsayed, a 25 year old teacher of physical education. They said they had formed a human chain with other young men to protect Logan, and then delivered her to the Egyptian Museum military post.

When I read CBS’s story and it’s interpretation by other media outlets, I felt troubled. It seemed misleading. “It didn’t make sense to me”, said Benjamin Starr, from Boston who arrived as a tourist on January 24th, and stayed to witness the uprising. He also saw the mob pass by with Lara Logan. “I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe something happened in another part of the square, but from what I saw, she was being taken by men to the soldiers, and her clothes were not torn off. There were no women, I didn’t see a single woman in the crowd around her.”

So basically, Logan got roughed up like a hundred other unremarked-on reporters in the area around that time. But for having the bad taste to bear witness to the facts (and against precious Lara’s claim to specialness) Grecko got attacked as a “yellow journalist” by white knight/pretty boy/nepotism hire* Dan Abrams: “Lara Logan Attacked Again, This Time By Yellow Journalists.”

… There is no doubt. It is a fact that Logan was hospitalized with severe injuries. Not a theory, not an allegation not a claim, but a fact. Because Grecko and Starr did not actually see the attack itself and other “activists” with whom Grecko claims to have spoken, did not witness it (or more likely don’t want to believe it), he questions whether it was sexual in nature and whether it happened at all.

A “fact” that she had “severe injuries?” Where does Abrams get this? All we know is Logan reportedly spent four days in a hospital. We have no idea why, and more importantly, we have no report or evidence that any injuries that did occur were sexual. As I noted in a previous post, it’s unlikely a hospital would turn away a woman of Logan’s wealth and fame if she felt the need to stay there for a few days claiming any type of attack.

And ironically, the accounts provided in Grecko’s story provide the only witness accounts of Logan’s attack that have appeared to date. Despite Logan’s claim of being rescued by women and soldiers, not a single person other than Logan herself has corroborated her account of her sexual attack.

Abrams goes on to call Grecko a “charlatan,” and to accuse him of discouraging women from reporting rape. Why, because potential rape claimants will read Grecko’s account and fear they, too, might be discredited by witnesses who saw it not happen? No, I have a lot more fear that underdog journalists like Grecko will be discouraged from reporting the facts because they fear being smeared by wealthy powerhouses like CBS and Abrams.

*Abrams’ dad is Columbia constitutional law professor/rich lawyer Floyd Abrams, which probably helped Abrams when he was at Columbia law grooming for his career as a TV legal analyst.

Category: Elsewhere

It’s not just the lack of corroboration that makes me suspicious of Logan’s sexual assault claim. It’s her own reaction, or lack thereof. Forget the twaddle about sexual assault victims being too depressed and terrified to “come foward.” That may be the average victim. But Lara Logan is absolutely not average, and certainly not a timid, powerless little nobody who has to fear the police, idiot neighbors or sneering classmates. She is a wealthy, sophisticated 40-year-old woman who has spent 10 years in war zones, who saw a soldier’s leg blown off next to her in a tank, who has a huge machine of support behind her. She’s not your 12-year-old daughter. She’s not even you. She wasn’t embarrassed about the Baghdad Love Triangle, she wasn’t embarrassed about having the baby of a still-married man with a toddler, and she wouldn’t be embarrassed about this.

Lara Logan is clearly not one of those people who feels like bad treatment is her fault. And she may be a lightweight, she may be a bimbo, but she is not a weakling and does not lack confidence. No way do I buy that she’s too traumatized to talk. She talks for a living. She exposes other people — many much less wealthy and famous than she is — to public scrutiny for a living. And we’re just supposed to swallow the minimal misleading press release that has made her a household word, wish her well, and “respect her privacy?” Any self-respecting journalist would roll her eyes at the hypocrisy.

And if this really did happen to her, she is, above all else, furious. Ever talked to a real sex crime victim? They want heads on pikes. And they talk, oh yes, given an opportunity they will talk until their throat dries out. Even kids (I have seen them testify. “How did that make you feel?” Ten-year-old witness: “I want to punch him in the nose!”) They welcome the opportunity to bear loud and angry witness.

So why is none of that happening? She has one of the biggest voices in the world right now, and the perfect opportunity to help locate and punish her attackers, reward her rescuers, and focus attention on sexual harassment and assault of women, and female reporters, in Arab countries. Yet she refuses comment.

Here’s what CBS should have sent out immediately:

This evening [because we’re not going to conceal this news while a thousand other reporters are potentially in danger!], correspondent Lara Logan suffered [major? moderate?] injuries during a mob attack in Tahrir Square. Ms. Logan was attacked when she was separated from her crew and surrounded by a mob. She was rescued from further harm by a group of female Egyptian protesters and a group of Egyptian soldiers. Her injuries required hospitalization, for which she returned to the United States immediately.

I could see where it might take a few days to sort out and figure out how to handle the sexual battery element. Logan herself should have followed up with a clarifying statement, something along these lines:

“I want to thank the public for the outpouring of support and concern I have received regarding the incident at Tahrir. I also extend my gratitude to the brave Egyptian woman and soldiers who offered their assistance. I understand their have been rumors that the attack against me was sexual in nature. Those reports are true. I was surrounded by a mob, struck multiple times, had my two front teeth knocked out [I’m making that up for example — ST], and was grabbed and battered sexually and had my clothes torn. Thankfully, I was not raped, due to the intervention of those brave female protesters. They deserve the gratitude of their countrymen and ours.

Unfortunately, as many of us who cover foreign wars know, my experience is not unique. Many reporters have suffered similar attacks. Some were not as lucky as I was. In addition, the women of may of the countries we cover suffer worse fates every day. Women’s rights, yadda yadda yadda they should be treated a lot better, I only hope I’ve increased awareness so others may be helped etc. I and my producers are reviewing tapes of the square that night and will bring forward any leads we have to U.S. and Egyptian authorities, and will be very grateful for any assistance from the public in stringing up these bastards by their balls.” [I hate press releases, but you get the idea].

Yet for some reason, Logan is choosing to act like a fictional sexual assault victim. Precious, delicate, traumatized into silence. Recovering in private. Letting the concerned public assume the worst about her condition and her injuries. Stoking the buzz. Maybe she just doesn’t want to invite the scrutiny that the other approach — the real, angry, public approach — would bring.


Update: Finally, some independent reporting, although it’s unsourced. The Times of London (through the NY Daily News, because it’s behind a paywall) indicates the mob actually attacked the entire crew, calling them spies and Israelis, and Logan was separated at that time. This should be extremely verifiable (so let’s hear from some named witnesses, dammit!). The attack doesn’t sound nearly as sexual in this story, however. Apparently some or all of her clothes were torn off, and she was beaten with fists and flagpoles, and suffered welts from “aggressive pinching.” Sounds pretty bad, but I’ll bet it’s not what all those sympathetic readers envisioned when they read “brutal and sustained sexual assault” in the CBS press release.

Category: Elsewhere

Supposedly a group of women and about 20 soldiers dragged her to safety from this public sexual assault of unspecified detail (some reports have called it “gang rape,” but I’ve seen no claim of that). This was six days ago.

The story is an international sensation. Yet we’ve heard absolutely no information except that contained in CBS’s press release (via Associated Press):

Separated from her crew in the crush of the violent pack, she suffered what CBS called “a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.” She was saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers, the network said.

All these witnesses, all these heroes — not a single word out of any of them? Maybe they’re twittering and blogging in Egyptian and it just hasn’t hit the English-speaking world yet?

I’ve been scouring the Internet for days, and nothing. Does anyone have any links to help out?

The manosphere is full of the expected crap about how she deserved it (you know, because she’s a woman hanging around Muslims, a woman with a job, a woman with blond hair, a woman) but nothing else. My concerns are forensic. If my suspicious are at all founded, then and only then will I consider it fair to expound about how I think Lara Logan sucks as a reporter in ways completely unrelated to this. If my suspicions are unfounded, then please, please direct me to the relevant information.

And, no, I don’t consider the fact that she’s reportedly been in the hospital for four days proof she was sexually assaulted. She could have injuries from other sources (lots of reporters got clobbered over there). And if a person as famous and wealthy as Lara Logan wants to stay in the hospital for four days, I doubt doctors are going to kick her out.

Here’s an interesting tidbit further down in the AP story:

However, in the final days, and especially after the battles with pro-Mubarak gangs who attacked the protesters in Tahrir, women noticed sexual assault had returned to the square. On the day Mubarak fell, women reported being groped by the rowdy crowds. One witness saw a woman slap a man after he touched her. The man was then passed down a line of people who all slapped him and reprimanded him.

So it’s not as if people just stood by and accepted this. But maybe Logan just wasn’t as lucky.

Category: Elsewhere
The episode in which Clint pulls a grenade.

Clint and I were sitting in the living room as he unloaded everything that had been going on in the past month. I was surprised and unsurprised at the same time. It was one of those things where you have to sort of re-orient yourself to a new surrounding and a new reality. Eight years earlier, I had been congratulated by a friend on my impending engagement and I had to inform him that not only was no engagement forthcoming but that Julie and I had gone our separate ways. The framework changes from one of a future to a thing of the past. Reality changes and we’re left to re-orient. When we planned this trip, I thought I was going to be helping Clint strategize his proposal. Instead, he was telling me of the destruction of everything and we were sitting there, talking and looking around an apartment that was soon to be entirely dismantled. A strange feeling to be somewhere that soon was no longer going to even exist.

Six months before all this he had told me of his plans to propose. Almost two years before that, he had been expected to propose but had not. It had become a sore point. A weight under which it was extremely difficult to put any of it right without it seeming anything more than an effort to shed a burden. There. I proposed. I did it. Happy? Or was that not what you had in mind? That’s why I can’t propose today. Or tomorrow. Or until this burden lifts. What do you mean this burden won’t lift without a proposal? That puts us in quite the pickle, doesn’t it?

About two weeks before our conference in the condemned apartment, he sent me a somewhat mysterious email telling me that there was a lot going on and that he wished it could be a good thing. A month before that, Margaret had tried to contact Dave and I about the two of us going to Shaston to surprise him. I emailed Dave and told him that we needed to put any plans on ice for now. Though Clint’s relationship with Margaret had previously been reported happy (albeit burdened), I had run through it in my mind and determined taht there was no other “not good thing” he could be referring to. His job already wasn’t very good, but he’d learned to accept that. His financial situation wasn’t very good, but he’d learned to accept that (and it was on an upward tick at any rate). The only good thing that being something other than good would be news was his relationship with Margaret.

About a week before the conference, we made some plans for me to take a trip down there. The timing wasn’t ideal with all that was going on at work, but it was obvious that there were some things he needed to chat about.

The day before we sat talking in the soon-to-be dismantled apartment, he called me three times. I couldn’t answer because my cell phone was in a test harness at work. He called me a fourth time after the phone had been taken out. I could tell by his voice what he was going to say.

“I’m sorry to do this, man, but I’m going to have to cancel our plans this weekend.”

I waited for him to tell me what was going on, but he didn’t. “I’m guessing no explanation is forthcoming?” I asked. Yes, I really talk like that sometimes.

He paused. “No.”

That the plans were cancelled was one thing. That he wouldn’t tell me why was another. But what stood out most was the tone of his voice. Clint does things that trigger drama, for sure, but he is not on the whole a dramatic person. He is actually anti-drama. If he were to find out about a girlfriend cheating on him, his response is “How can I make this go away? This doesn’t mean our relationship is over, does it?” instead of making a big show about the betrayal and his victimhood and how is he ever going to be able to trust her again. That he was so obviously affected told me that something was very, very wrong. And completely out of his control. She was leaving him. Not in the gradual sense that one realizes that a relationship is not going to work out, but rather that she was leaving him right that minute. Or was kicking him out. Something was happening to him that meant that I couldn’t come down to Shaston. I shot him an email telling him that I heard his distress and that if he needed me down there I would go down there even if it meant driving straight back or getting a hotel for the night.

In the late morning of the day of the conference in the pre-dismantled apartment, he called me back and sent me an email telling me that if I could come down he would greatly appreciate it. I told him that I needed four hours and that I would be there. There was some pretty monstrous traffic that made it take longer than expected. When I walked in, he informed me that Margaret had gone to a hotel for the night. He was wearing a Parallax Productions shirt and some pajama pants. When we have something to talk about, we usually small talk for a little bit to oxygenize the atmosphere before getting to the heavy stuff. Not this time. He immediately told me the story of one of the worst days of his life. The previous day when he had called me in distress to tell me not to come down.

It started a month or so prior. He met Kirby. The rest of it unfolded, one aching detail at a time, how I knew it would the second the presence of a third party was mentioned. Infidelity, remorse, the promise never to do it again, repeat loop. But her presence was both on-point and beside the point. Affairs come in two varieties, cause and effect. A causal affair is one that ruins something great. An effectious affair is the crowning acknowledgement of one party of how far from great a relationship is. This was the latter.

Thoughts drifted back to my meeting Evangeline. How even prior to meeting Evangeline I’d had the growing sense of unease with Julie. But Eva had become the point. Meeting her and feeling how I did about her brought everything into focus. It provided the startling contrast between what I was capable of feeling and what I did not feel towards Julie. Evangeline made it impossible for my relationship with Julie to be repaired. Impossible for me to view it the same ever again. Re-orientation.

Kirby did the same for Clint. Kirby embraced those parts of him for which Margaret made him feel ashamed. Kirby brought out those feelings and sensations in him whose absense had made him feel so isolated and the length of said absense so long that he had forgotten that they were missing. Re-orientation.

The main difference being that he had betrayed Margaret physically rather than emotionally. I had managed to end things with Julie in time for that to happen. But the existence of Kirby was secondary. She merely filled a particular void. I regreted how things imploded with Evangeline shortly after I took the leap away from Julie, but even in Evangeline’s absense I never for a moment felt that leaving Julie was the wrong decision. I knew that the same would be true of Clint. You can’t re-forget what has just awoken from a long, sustained sleep.

Regardless of what happened, the apartment was going to be dismantled. Their possessions split. Their lives apart. But what happened was that Margaret realized what was going on and unearthed the proof. She had done so the day before. The long, heartfelt conversation that he had envisioned with him telling her that things were coming to an end were replaced with a never-ending string of expletives hurled at him by a woman scorned. A conversation so deeply unpleasant that you want nothing more than to escape it. Yet a lecture so deserved that you have no choice but to endure it.

And after the explosion she left. He was torn between the feeling that he should tell her not to go and helping her pack her things because he knew that one of them needed to. Why it was her I do not know since these situations usually involve him being kicked out. Into a doghouse, preferably, or an outhouse, ideally. Most likely, her leaving assured her that he would not end up at Kirby’s place.

Though she wasn’t there, Margaret was less than pleased with my presence in their apartment. She had visions of my reassuring Clint that he had done nothing wrong and that everything would be okay. But neither temporary occupant in the apartment whose dismantling was pending pretended that Clint had done nothing wrong or that anything would be okay. My presence there saved her from the much more grotesque reality that if I hadn’t been there, Kirby likely would be. He had no one else to turn to. But that was assuredly of little comfort since while my presence there excluded hers and was not based on forgiveness for his transgressions, it was a cold strategization session for getting him out of that relationship with as much of the remainder of his life in check as possible.

It’s not uncommon in sitcoms for a guest character to become a member of the cast by throwing that person into the main character’s life in some unexpected way. Such as, for instance, getting a job where the main character works. Kirby had gotten a job at the shop where Clint worked and was technically a subordinate since Clint was of managerial status. So we strategized how to prevent him from losing his job. We strategized how to prevent him from losing a weekly gig at a local bar that was one of his few ties to the outside world (and that, despite his having met Kirby there, his resignation from would not help save his relationship with Margaret even if Clint were hopeful of doing so).

There was all manner of havoc that Margaret could wreak and would be largely justified in doing so. But it would be destructive and would not achieve Margaret’s desire for reconciliation nor ultimately make her feel better. So it was planning and strategy in the pre-dismantled apartment on that Saturday afternoon while she laid in a hotel bed and melted across town.

Among Margaret’s other fears of my presence there, she was afraid that he and I would just be laughing it up while she cried. The injustice of that was palpable. There was laughter, but the dark sort that has the main purpose of allowing one to forget about their pain, however temporarily. Clint forgetting the pain, even temporarily, is certainly not what Margaret wanted or deserved. But what she needed was frankly of secondary importance. He couldn’t give her what she wanted and any effort on Clint’s part to sacrifice everything to give her just a little of what she wanted quite simply wasn’t going to happen.

One of the comments she made during the never-ending parade of expletives on the day before that I did not come down was that the Clint she knew would never do what Clint had done. I’m not going to air too much dirty laundry at this point and I am certainly not going to defend Clint’s actions, but put in the situation that he was in (a situation more than partly of his own making), there was really not much else he would have done. That she didn’t know him well enough to know this about him was relevent, both in terms of how well she knew him and how honest he was with her about himself. The impressive part was that he held out as long as he did. The damning part was not that he slept with someone else, but that he did so prior to the inevitable separation. The difference between what Clint did and what most people would have done, in that situation (if they got into it in the first place) was largely one of timing.

It’s human nature, I guess, to look for a sense of justice in times of personal torment. It’s why, though logic would dictate otherwise, being left for someone else is more personally offensive than being left for no one. Because when you’re left for someone else, you know that while you are alone and miserable and crying in a bed that they have rebounded in ways that they do not deserve. Whatever guilt they feel is tempered by the human contact that you lack. In essence, Clint had been rewarded with a pillow to break his fall by his own willingness to partake in infidelity. She had hit the concrete because her moral structure makes infidelity unthinkable. She had suffered for her morality and he had been rewarded for the lapse of his.

It’s the impossibility of fully grasping the injustice of that which makes people avoid it at all costs. When there is no way a wrong can be made right, the inclination is not to try. There is nothing Clint can do to make the situation right. The best thing that he could do is to grovel and try to repair things, but she had him doing that well before any transgression on his part. He can tell her that he realizes that he is not a good enough man for her, but she had him feeling that way before. He can try to repair the relationship to where it was before, but it was already broken. She never forgave him for his failure to propose two years earlier. She was never going to forgive him for this.

There comes a point where you simply have to accept the injustice of the situation. Not so much on the part of the sinner who needs to feel enough pain never to commit that particular sin again, but particularly on the part of the sinned against whose first order of business is to let go of the anger and bitterness as quickly as possible. In both cases, the sharp pains of reality are sufficient to keep the learned lessons learned. This type of two-penny wisdom is always easiest for those that are not in pain to spout.

Margaret was to return the next day at noon. At which point, I was to make a hasty exit. It was obvious that our rally conference was not going to be concluded in time. So much of “What happens now” depended on what kind of mindset she returned with. If she decided that he was the only thing that she had in her life, he would need to find a way to dislodge that notion from her mind. We kept hoping that she would come back and tell him that he needed to leave and that she never wanted to speak to him again. Few sinners are ever so fortunate as to achieve perfect exile.

She arrive half-an-hour ahead of schedule and unfortunately I wasn’t packed yet. She made a beeline to the balcony and just sat there, looking out into oblivion. Clint helped me scramble and gather my things as quickly as possible.

He mouthed to me, “I don’t know if I should go out there and talked to her.”

I shrugged. “Wait until I leave,” I mouthed back, as much for my sake as anybody’s.

For my part, I didn’t know whether to say goodbye to her. I was never going to see her or talk to her again. I knew that much. Given the situation, there was no “right” thing for me to do. There was only the insult of failing to say goodbye after all she’d been through competing against the slight of self-importance of the guy that thinks that I factor into her thoughts worth enough a damn for her to give an excrement that I was leaving.

I decided that I would take self-importance. I told her that I was leaving. She graciously thanked me for stopping by. I left as quickly as I could.

Category: Coffeehouse

The previous post about Roommates reminded me of this little story:

A long time ago I roomed with two guys: Karl and Dennis. I’d been suitemates with Dennis in college and got along with him reasonably well. Karl and I were on less good terms, though I’m a pretty easy guy to get along with. They were initially going to get an apartment together, but I was needing a place and three ways is safer and cheaper than two.

Things went swimmingly for a while. They were closer to each other than they were to me, for the most part. But that was fine because things with my then-girlfriend Evangeline made me pretty constantly need space and to be alone. I should have noticed, however, when Dennis was distancing himself from us. He’d done the same in the dorms before deciding to keep the door between our apartments locked.

Dennis was a big Delosa Dragons hockey fan. As such, when the Dragons dropped out of the playoffs, he was was pretty distraught. As he generally did when he was distraught, he popped in an adolescent sports movie. It was “Bad News Bears” for baseball, “Little Giants” for football, and one of the Mighty Ducks movies for hockey. This time it was Mighty Ducks 3. Karl, meanwhile, was quite bored, so he was hanging around the living room. I was working on my computers at the time on the kitchen table.

Karl was pretty relentless in his poking fun at the movie. The movie, to be frank, left itself wide open to snide criticism. I wasn’t following the plot or anything, but with a movie like that who really needs to? I kept my mouth shut and Karl didn’t. He pressed on. Dennis, already upset about the Dragons’ loss, got up, got his tape out of the VCR, went to his room, and never spoke to Karl again.

I had already made the decision to go month-to-month, though it was mostly so that I could move out. I figured that they were okay living together cause that was their plan before I entered the picture (before I was the mediator, I was the third wheel!), I was making enough money that I could afford to, and I could move closer to work. Things didn’t work out as I had planned, though it certainly help keep the hole Karl and I would have to dig out of smaller.

For an excruciating three weeks, they communicated through me.

“Tell that jerk I don’t want to speak to him.”

“Tell the crybaby I’ll talk to him when he grows up.”

And then one day, Karl woke up and I came home from working the night-shift and Dennis was gone. I’d later found out that since he didn’t have a place in town to live, he quit his job and moved about 600 miles away to live with his grandmother. More immediately of concern was our own situation and particularly mine. He was already back a month’s rent and since we had to give notice and hadn’t paid the previous month’s rent, and he had the largest room and paid the most in rent, he owed me nearly four digits. He also dashed my plans for getting my own place. Not only was my financial situation more precarious, but there was no way that Karl could afford his own and it would have been selfish of me to not take him in to account. But at the time I was just glad that the stalemate was over – whatever the conclusion.

I could have lived with either separately, but I had gotten tired of being messenger. Karl and I ultimately made great (if odd) roommates and he was an usher at my wedding (which Dennis did not attend, perhaps because Karl would be there). It did take quite a while for me to get my money back. Most if it, anyway, and I forgave the rest.

I’m not generally a big fan of adolescent sports movies. They’re formulaic and predictable and tiresome. I did think the original Mighty Ducks movie was alright. I’ve heard that the second is actually better than the first, though I wouldn’t know. What I do know, however, is that I hate Mighty Ducks 3 with a passion. Even though I’ve not really seen it.

Category: Ghostland