Monday, January 25, 2016

If You Should Take the Word of Others You've Heard

Of all the lies I've been told by men -- and having married at 42 I've been told plenty  -- the worst one by far is:  Don't worry.  The math courses get easier from here on out.  I heard that one a few years ago when I was drowning in my own blood routinely trying to prove something such as the following:

Prove that the function : N"O defined by f(x) = 2x – 1 is a bijection from N to O.

Oh how they lied.  It is Week 2, class 3 of something called Discrete Mathematics and I am already Toast.  Remember in years past when you'd ask me how the maths (as they say on the Continent) was going and I would answer in one word, emphasis on the second syllable:  Brutal?  And then I'd start flailing, swearing and spitting and my arms would catapult away from my body at 90 miles/hour as I tried to explain what They put me through?  Remember how I didn't return phone calls?  Nor emails?  How you didn't see me for weeks, months on end but come by any time of the day or night and the lamp would be burning in my office?  Every math class after Calc II was like that.  Each semester I swore that I couldn't go on; I must go on.  And by sheer 60 year old dumbfuckery I'd make it through the 2-hour final gratified if the product of all that suffering was a C-.

But this stuff?  I just sit there with a permanent WTF? expression trying to ignore a hypertension-induced headache.  I'm so dumbfounded I'm going to have to invent new profanity to describe this semester.

So dahlins, do nothing till you hear from me .... and you nev-eh-vah will.  (Fade to black.)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Quick Brown Fox ...

It has been a long time, my excuse being Java -- all night and half the day.  This is the sweet interregnum between semesters and I am pretending that I have time on my hands.  That would only be true if I didn't have a job a family people that I cared about far and wide.  For reasons that will remain private (but not uncommon) the one thing you'll always see me sportin' these days is a world-class headache.

What was it they said about war?  Stretches of boredom punctuated by moments sheer terror?  It's not quite that extreme, but like Bessie Smith hating to see the ev'ning sun go down, I hate to hear the trill of my cell or landline.  It's always news.  And mostly bad.

So, folks, happy new year and all that.  I found myself underneath Times Square on New Year's Eve.  In all the years of living in NYC I never went to Times Square to watch Waterford crystal made to look like it was going to smash into a million tiny pieces.  (I broke a wedding present once -- a Waterford crystal goblet [and now there are seven] -- and I still wince at the memory.)  In fact, I made it a point to stay as far from all that as I could, including not watching it on TV.  So, the irony of my being there that night, with far too much luggage to get past the barricades, was a bit much.  More than terrorists I was preoccupied with avoiding germs (and no I'm not phobic, but my winter travel often seems to be followed by bouts of sickness).  Wishful thinking that.  I'd just ridden 4 hours on a packed plane, and was making my way via subways and trains back to New Haven on what are probably the most highly-trafficked hours of the year with about a zillion other people, half of whom were tourists breathing with their mouths wide open and ....

... the next day I sounded like the spawn of a bored Greta Garbo and Kermit the Frog.  It didn't get too bad, that is the head cold I was anointed, but I didn't get out of that particular trip unscathed.  Oh. Well.

Another reason I haven't written much is that so much outrages me these days, and it happens so frequently I just can't catch my breath before my head is twirling again in counterpoint to my eyeballs.  Can't keep up.  This blog was born in 2010 of outrage, a response to the xenophobic, racist bullshit over the possible construction of a mosque, the proposed Cordoba House in lower Manhattan.  (cf:  Got Your MY NAME IS HUSSEIN T-shirt?).  Since then there's been a target-rich environment -- what with my introduction to small city politics and what not.  But if you told me I'd be an eyewitness to the complete infiltration of the Republican Party by the ghosts of  the John Birch Society, I'd tell you to get outta my face.  And.  I'd. Be. Wrong.  Or if you told me that journalistic convention dictates  that a 16 year old black male adolescent who is executed on a Chicago street is a "man", but an 21 year old Yale student (who, it goes without saying is white) who backs a truck over another human being is a boy I'd tell you to get outta my face.  And.  I'd. Be. Wrong.  Or that we should not take pause during this thing that passes for a firearms control debate where many argue that "only bad guys would be allowed to have guns" as if being a Bad Guy is immutable, easily classified and/or identified (eugenics, anyone?).  And that if would be rational to discuss instances of gun violence that flow from stupidity and carelessness, opportunity, or extreme fear and anger.  And.  I'd. Be. Wrong.

I was about to say "I could go on" but I can't.  To mine the indignation is to trip the wire of my dormant outrage and it takes too much energy and too much aspirin to come down from all of that.  And it is Saturday, and I am still pretending that life is easy and I have nothing more pressing to do than read a very good book and count my calories.   And.  I'd. Be. Wrong.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


You know we were there this summer.  To visit family, friends and the city itself.  You may also know, if you've known me for a long, long time that I am so not a Francophile.  But this attack caused a pain in my heart.  Probably one that would not have existed had I not walked Parisian streets and eaten at Parisian cafés.  As I wrote to some American friends who live there for half of each year:  This hurts in a way the Hebdo and supermarket ones did not.  There was a twisted, evil [but] understandable logic -- which in all wild murders holds only for an atomic moment.  But now that I've seen Paris, and now that it is not an abstraction, and that there were dozens of indiscriminate many ... The French republic will be brutal, dark and swift in its reprisals. I fear that the geopolitical axis has shifted towards another major war.

A blow to one of the world's great cities (and not all large cities are great cities -- Los Angeles or Dublin being cases in point) is a mortal blow to our common humanity.  I've lived in one and been to a few others and the time spent in each and every one -- whether it has been years or days -- has been a gift that has changed me.