Sunday, July 10, 2016

Regrets? I'd had a few.

Of all the times to resume writing this blog (encouraged by far away friends who use it the way others use Facebook) I did not want to resume in the middle of a national crisis, one that is played out in my own 1200 sf home.  But, this blog was born of national crisis -- the controversy over building a mosque in downtown Manhattan -- and as long as I'm alive, and as long as I can feel outrage, this blog will exist.

Where to begin.

In my day job I sometimes read papers published in peer-reviewed journals that go to great lengths to describe the physics of a bullet as it travels through human tissue.  The speed, the projectile's rotation, calculation of the frictional force, trajectory, and the thermodynamics of heat loss as a device made of brass and gunpowder tears, maims and often kill you.  Usually there are pictures, e.g., Figure 1, let's call it Mortal Wound to Torso, and if I look closely enough (which I never do) what seems at a distance to be the mouth of an angry volcano is more likely what a tunnel gored by a bullet does to someone's body.  (Imagine the violence required to blast through the mountains of western Pennsylvania so that Interstate 76 can take you from Philly to Pittsburgh; that's what a bullet can do.)  If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, one's imagination is worth a 1,000 pictures.  I don't have to see it; I live with it.

In a city that has been dying for half a century.  Where persistent unemployment of young men of color is the enduring norm, not an anomaly.  Where I, who has been through the sluice gates of corrosive institutional racism and should know better am daily conditioned to fear and distrust men who could be my own children.  I repeat:  fear and distrust men who could be my own children.  That's where I live.

And I live with someone who, the mornings after Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed, and 5 Dallas police officers were killed, rushed to tell me that Black Lives Matter is responsible for what happened in Dallas.  (Like most libertarians, he thinks he lives on Dispassionate Reason Street when he lives on Id Lane.)  All of it, all of it -- outside and inside my home -- reminds me of the bitter and very American joke:

Q:  What's scarier than a white man with a gun?
A:  A black man with a gun.

I am in a rage which makes it difficult to write.  As I write it congeals into a pounding headache.  But, the paradox is that if I don't write I will never ever get to the other side.  I used to make fun of crazy people who would offer me their tiny-margined, single-spaced, double-sided screeds, their manifesto detailing the malevolence of the universe and all its actors.  I won't any more.

to be continued ...


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Remember to Forget

That phrase came to me a few days ago; what it means I'm not sure other than part of the art of living, and living with another specifically is elective forgetting.  Not all enemies and antagonists must last forever.  In other words, a husband is a man you haven't shivved.  Yet.  (It's a joke, calm down, calm down.  If you don't believe me, call him.  He's sitting by the phone waiting to hear from The One who will make America Great Again.)

I feel I owe Someone Something this morning because GodKnowsthis post won't write itself.  And in that way it resembles almost anything else in my life except the certainly of mortal decay.  Anyway, it is spring and the itch I've felt for weeks to throw my crutches away and walk unaided into the light will now be indulged.  I, like much of the natural world, am molting.  Had to drop the latest math class because I was never going to get more than a C- and an aneurysm in the process.  And now don't yet know how to finish what I started.

Cuthbert, in his manly wisdom, being kind says to me, "Well, now you can focus on something you do well."  Translation:  I.  Told.  You.  So.  (Believe when I tell you that remarks like the above are what pass for compassion in our marriage.)  He's got a point -- a wiser woman than I would have pursued the social sciences, or the arts.  And as excited as I am by them, the many subjects that fall under those classifications are not ones I want to teach.  At least not occupationally.  I wants to teach Math (or Maths as our friends across the pond say).  And I'm not entirely convinced that it is impossible for a woman who hasn't always eaten her spinach (and is now paying for it).

And there is the matter of the job.  I work for a world class university and, at least in the stratum I occupy, because of that I have extraordinary employee benefits.  When you've reached the stage of life where you actually study those Social Security statements that come in the mail, benefits such as retirement savings and health insurance matter.  Perhaps too much but they do.  I've had a glimpse of the ardors of old age, the burden it is on your children, and frankly, I wouldn't blame Daughter No. 1 if she puts a pillow over my head and Daughter No. 2 serves as lookout.  (As long as they don't talk while they're doing it.  I hate to miss a good conversation and my hearing's shit anyway.)  The job itself and the goodies it provides will be hard to abandon.  The running joke in my house is that Cuthbert so loves the University's health facilities that he'll be pushing my wheelchair to the office when I'm 99 years old just so we'll still be covered. And right now, that's as good a life plan as any.

For now.

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.)