(this is annie)

crooked crooks and porky pork

I get most of my news from the Times and from the internets. So I'm not sure if this sort of thing is being reported on cable news networks. Forgive me if I am talking about a story that has received as much media attention as, say, the Scott Peterson trial.

Over the weekend, the lame ducks in Congress passed a spending bill. Spending bills are not really that exciting unless they're laden with all kinds of things to get you riled up. And guess what? This one's full of them. The USA Today story is a good summary. Some highlights:

The Presidential Yacht: Two million dollars to re-purchase a big boat. I find it offensive that we're spending money on a yacht instead of on, say, health care for poor children.

More Big Brother: This one almost slipped in. Would you feel all right with members of Congress looking at your tax returns? Because that's what they wanted to do.

Chipping Away at Choice: Oh, and this one did slip in. In this "spending" bill, there's a provision that allows health care providers, physicians, and HMOs to refuse to perform abortions for non-health reasons. This provision goes beyond the actual act of abortion; it also covers health counseling and information. Basically, if you're a woman who wants information about or a referral for abortion, and your doctor is anti-choice, that doctor doesn't have to give you any information if you ask for it.

Bread and circus, anyone?

why i didn't drink until i was 23

When you grow up in the country, when the nearest town has a population of 200, you have to learn how to keep yourself occupied. Such is the lament of the rural teen: there's nothing to do around here. But there was, in an admittedly un-flashy way. As a young adolescent, I busied myself with endearingly innocent activities. I remember the years between ages 10 and 13 in oddly dichotomous terms. Summers were spent dodging blue racers, aqua-kicking through seaweed, and making pie from wild berries picked near our house. My idyllic days were, I suspect, a respite from the uncomfortable evenings that preceded them.

These were the days of the first Bush's recession, and my father had lost his job as a commercial artist — or what graphic designers were called back in the day. To boost the family's income, my mother took a job at a bank while my father assembled a collection of small jobs: bartender, Shell station attendant, rent-a-guard, Wal-Mart sporting goods "associate," and so on. It is both awkward and accurate to say that we didn't have very much money. We ate a lot of Tuna Helper and frozen fried chicken.

My parents argued a lot, but other times they didn't say anything at all. Their battles were fought with hissed sighs, purposefully angry clanks of coffee mugs, forceful door slams. We didn't eat dinner together as much as we used to, in part because my father worked late or went to the bar down the road. I hated that bar and the slurring men who complimented my father on "the way I was turning out." At the same time, I greedily liked it when he'd return with a snack of chicken strips or cheese sticks for me.

My father used to take me swimming at the lake, and sometimes he'd sip a beer while I splashed around (again, keeping a vigilant eye out for water snakes). I don't remember when it happened, but he started bringing two, three, four with him, and soon thereafter he stopped watching my jumps and dives. I identified the attention-stealing culprit as the cheap Schaefer cans, and I was so jealous that I once "accidentally" knocked them into the deep water off the dock. Another time, to punish my father for falling asleep with his beer, I swam as far out as I could and pretended to drown. Certainly, he would have to wake up and realize the importance of his youngest child, I believed. But my little faked yelps didn't puncture his slumber, and all that came out of my botched guilt trip was one very tired and grumpy 12-year-old.

You could hear the sputtered roar of my father's rusty Bronco from a mile away. I hated that truck not only because it was embarrassingly clunky, but also because it rattled with empty cans dribbling out stale beer. I was frozen in the passenger seat whenever my father would drive down dusty gravel roads, veering close to the shoulder.

I spent a few years like this, learning to unlove my father. I developed a near-violent hatred of alcohol, because I saw it as the thief who took our relationship and ruined it. A man who broke into our house one summer night was fall-down drunk, and so I further associated drunkenness with fear and helplessness. I cried a lot. I mutated from a cheerful child into a dark-minded pre-adolescent. I begged and pleaded for my father to stop drinking, even accusing him of loving his beer more than he loved his family. And that's how it looked, of course.

To this day, I don't really know why my father stopped drinking. All I know is that one day, the six-pack he lifted out of the grocery bag was fake beer — the kind that has .05 percent alcohol content. "I'm going to give this a try," he said. He hasn't had a drink since then.

I do love my father and I'm not trying to vilify him by writing any of this. We are all imperfect, perhaps more broken than we are whole. As an adult, I'm now beginning to understand the situation from a more mature perspective; I'm able to look back at it and see myself not as myself but as a child. That makes some memories easier and others harder, but this shifted perspective has ultimately helped me understand our family, my father, and myself.

Soon: yet another long tale about why I do imbibe now and then, since you asked. Expect thrilling anecdotes like Being Carried Home By My Boyfriend After A Wine Tasting; I Think I Could Totally Take Mr. Corduroy In A Fight; and I Guess Since The Boss Offered Me Chardonnay, I'd Better Have Some If I Want To Keep My Job.

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Between closing the winter issue of Venus and intensely working on a big freelance project, the inevitable has happened: I've finally lost my mind. Later this evening, I am going on a date that involves dinner at the restaurant Lovitt. Witness the mind-losing, as evidenced through this e-mail excerpt:

first e-mail: I called Lovitt, and we have the 9:00 dinner reservation. Is that too late for you? Are you too hungry? I don't want you falling over out of sleepiness.

ps: lovitt is byob. i have red wine; is that OK? or do you not feel like wine?

pps: also, lovitt's byob means no corkage fee. i think this rules. i think corkage fees are really lousy — especially lula's. i feel like if a restaurant doesn't have wine, then you should be able to bring your own. i mean, i've already bought the wine and i shouldn't have to pay them for the privilege of using their glasses. this is why tiny lovitt gets it right, and why lula brings out the miser in me. because i don't mind spending money on a nice dinner, but expensive corkage fees make me feel like i'm getting snookered.

ppps: lovitt records put out records by 400 years. you have no idea how excited i would be if, upon our arrival, the chef were all "tomlin! guess what? since you ate here last, we've decided to add LIVE MUSIC to the dining experience. and here is the re-formed 400 years!" and then, you know, the rockin' started. i do not think this will happen, nor would 400 years provide ideal music for mastication.

i see you lying here

A few weeks ago:

It's an hour before midnight, and the Rainbo is comfortably filled with the kinds of people who don't have to worry about waking up early the next day. I've become one of these people; there's something better about going out late on a Tuesday rather than on a Friday.

Among the revelers is the friend I'm meeting, who we'll call Miss X (in honor of the MC5, natch). We grab the second booth from the left and start to talk about the Edwards/Cheney debate that just went down. We have smuggled in some Caramellos, and it somehow feels little-girlish to eat the waxy chocolate in the midst of all the drinking.

Jesse's in the booth next to us, and I tell Miss X that he's thinking of growing a beard again. I'm against the idea, and to emphasize my support of shaving, I text-message him: NO DAN HIGGS BEARD. The beard discussion mutates into one about dude style in general: what's with pleated pants? why do so many of them grow their sideburns out until they look downright pubic? why would they grow moustaches? soul patches?

And just as we're reaching the peak of giggly perplexity, we're approached by a young man. He starts to slide his narrow hips into the booth before asking, "Do you mind if I join you ladies?"

I do, but he's already here, so we tell him he can sit for a bit. He's grinning lazily at Miss X. For a second I feel happy that he's not leering at me, but then my sympathies shift to Miss X, whose decolletage is being eyed hungrily by our newfound booth-mate. He introduces himself, but over the din all I can hear is that he's 22 and he's a writer (uh-oh). The lighting is dim, but when I look at his outfit I swear that he's wearing a corduroy tie with a corduroy blazer. I wonder if his outfit makes swish-swish sounds when he walks, just like how my scratchy corduroy pants did when I was a girl.

Both Miss X and I are displaying polite disinterest, which is our first mistake. We women do this too much. We don't want to look like cold bitches by telling men to leave us alone, so when some drunk clown is crookedly propping himself up on our table, we instead try to drop hints that we're not interested. The problem with this approach is that it's neither honest nor effective. The person in question often takes the absence of a direct "no" as the green light to keep on feeding us lines.

And so that's how, ten minutes later, Mr. Corduroy is still at our booth. He's also three sheets to the wind, he's now inviting Miss X back to his apartment — "My place is two blocks away, c'mon, you have to pay for drinks here" — and he's worn out his welcome. I can't tell if Miss X minds him being around, because her refusals of his offer are polite rather than forceful. She's a little drunk, and so I decide I must defend her honor, a duty that may or may not involve fisticuffs.

When Miss X excuses herself to use the loo, Mr. Corduroy makes an appeal to me, the cute sidekick. "Your friend would come home with me if you weren't here," he says, delusional. "I'm a nice guy; I just want to get to know her better." I consider telling him that she's my lesbian lover, but instead I say ice-cold, "She can do what she wants, and apparently she's not interested in going home with you." As Miss X starts her return from the bathroom, Mr. Corduroy again argues that if it weren't for my presence, he'd totally have this secured. Right.

Significantly drunker than before, he further attempts to cajole Miss X, who is either too tipsy or polite to tell him off. He's weaving all over the place, which is pretty difficult to do if you're sitting, I'd imagine. As he continues his wheedling, he starts to lean toward me with an outstretched, heavy hand. It's then that I realize that his hand's trajectory is leading toward my left breast. And then I say something so uncharacteristically brash that it sounds like arrows shooting from my tongue: Don't you dare touch my tits.

Him: Aw no, I wouldn't do that ever, why would you think I'd do something like that, I have total respect, I'm not sleazy.

So then I tell him that it sure looked like he was trying to "accidentally" cop a feel and that he's a major sleazeball. And yes, he is being pushy. And no, Miss X does not want to go home with him, and maybe he should get a clue and realize that when a woman says no, she means no. He apologizes and leaves our booth. We join James and Sam and go out for eggs at the 24-hour diner.


can't make sense yet

Last night, Phil and I went to Josh and JR's apartment to watch the returns. Around 11, the stress was taking its toll on my acorn-brain, and we left soon thereafter. From then on, the only news I had came in the form of a text message from Jesse, who informed me that Bush had won Ohio. And so that was that. My dreams were threaded with anxiety and sadness and, ultimately, confusion. I don't know what to think or how to feel.

One thing is certain: I'm concerned that this country is being taken over by right-wing zealots who put their religion before reason; who believe that raping innocent Iraqis is akin to fraternity hazin,g but that the real crime is lesbianism; who would rather give tax breaks to the wealthy than provide social programs for poor children. Is this the best we can do? I refuse to think that it is, and so I'll stubbornly cling to idealism and the necessity of change. I think it's possible to lose, but being defeated is a choice that's up to us.

And finally, on a similarly incoherent but less serious note: what is so wrong with being a tree-hugging, latte-drinking liberal? What's not to like about trees? Have critics of liberalism ever tried a latte? They're delicious.


say hello

    it's anniet at gmail.


© 2009 avt

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