Friday, December 30, 2016

Countdown to nuclear detonation

Every day, I wake up and read The Washington Post and go, "Are you high?" I'm not asking myself, I know that I am not high, but whenever I read the new strange thing DT has done, and I think he must be on some kind of drugs. Cocaine is my guess. Can you imagine what it must be like to work on his communications team? You would have to find yourself lying on a daily basis to try to change the meaning of whatever tweet he has sent at 2 a.m. Last week, it was something about re-starting the arms race with Russia.

His staff then has to scramble to revise the message so that it's less threatening and crazy. KAC (Kelly Anne Conway) has to say things like, "He's not saying that he wants to start competing with Russia and other countries with nuclear arms, but that he wants to be sure that other countries are on warning that they shouldn't start building more weapons." Huh? Also, why? Why is he saying this? It's not in response to anything tangible; it's a reaction he's having to something he read on a social media post or something he's constructed in his mind. Or maybe I am high? Did I go back in time to the Reagan era, where seventh grade me, having just watched people's faces melt off in the post-apocalyptic movie The Day After, wrote a letter to then-President Reagan, begging him not to launch any missiles? And was I slightly confused between watching that movie and listening to Billy Joel's The Nylon Curtain, rampant with songs about the horrors of the Vietnam War ("Remember Charlie/Remember Baker/They left their childhoods/On every acre"), so that I assumed we were still in the middle of a conflict in foreign lands?

What rational person would want to restart an arms race? Is this the same person who claimed that the F1-18 fighter jet cost too much money to produce? Or wait, that was last week and last week doesn't count because now we're in this week. So sayeth the person with the attention span of gnat.

The other reasons it's not okay to be flippant and unclear with your statements (if you are a rationally thinking person) is because you must know that not everyone who reads or hears such things is going to assume you're mostly full of shit. They may not understand that PE is a former reality TV host with no real-world experience in politics, nor should we expect them to give him a pass. Instead, we should always assume that they are going to take him at his literal word (he has no nuance). They don't owe him the benefit of the doubt. Nor do we, though we're being forced to imagine that he can't possibly mean what it sounds like he's saying more than half the time. Does KAC plan on calling every foreign leader every time Trump devises a new way to alarm the world?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What fresh hell is this

Had lunch today with the work group and got into a conversation about Trump and the man sitting next to me said he understands that I am emotional about how horrible he is, and then he patted my arm in a consoling way.  He meant well, but I was like, Hey, I'm not being emotional, this guy is scary. He's dangerous and unstable. He's tweeting now about starting an arms race again, echoing what Putin said hours earlier. I'm not sure that he's ever had an original idea that he executed. I mean, I believe that he has an actual personality disorder, and not one of the easily treatable ones, but more like a classic narcissist who only sees himself reflected in the world around him, and sees people and situations as tools to improve or threaten his situation. The other part that worries me greatly is that he seems easy to please and easy to anger, and therefore, easy for intelligent people to manipulate. Tell him he's smart and he loves you. Tell him he's an idiot and he says you're an idiot and then exacts whatever revenge he can muster. That ability to take revenge will grow stronger when he's the president. He will be harder to stop.

The other thing that worries me is that I don't understand why the electoral college can't vote against him. What's the vote from the electoral college for if not to stop an unfit candidate from taking office? What would qualify as unfit? Isn't having never held office, having a demonstrable track record of inciting anger and violence, losing the popular vote by nearly three million votes, possibly being involved in  tampering with the election, calling for the assassination of your opponent, not releasing your tax records to show  you have no conflicts of interest, being sued by thousands of people, declaring bankruptcy multiple times, illustrating on a daily basis that you can't control your temper, bragging about being a sexual predator, refusing to stay in the White House or to hold press conferences, disavowing the threat of climate change, wanting to roll back laws that keep businesses and banks from bad practices, running on a platform of lies, and requesting publicly that another government interfere with the election enough to give the electoral people pause? What would disqualify a person then?

 I wish there were one or two things I liked about him, but there are none. I worry that he's going to strip people of their rights, not just women, but LGBT individuals who are not a threat in any way to anyone, and Muslims who simply practice a different religion and people of color other than white who are struggling too. We pay so much attention now to income disparity as it relates to white people, but black people struggle as much and more. Racism is still a problem, and so is sexism. I can't even be articulate about these issues, because I thought we figured this out already. I thought we understood that it's not good for the country if one or two percent of the population makes most of the money, if schools aren't properly funded, if basic human rights aren't protected, if freedom to practice religion is stripped, if gay people are seen as flawed, if all immigrants are labeled as terrorists, rapists, and drug pushers. It's really like time travel--like the country wants to get into a time machine and go back to the 1950s when white people were the majority of income earners, women stayed at home to have babies and didn't work, and black people feared lynching.

Are there no smart people out there who can find a way to fight this? I feel like the people who could make a difference have been sucked up into a vacuum and we're not hearing from them. I fear that this way of conducting politics--via lies and tweets and total spin--is becoming normalized. Is that what Americans want? A president who flies by the seat of his pants and blurts out bullshit in 140 characters on a regular basis, alarming other countries and making claims he can't back up, and feeding this feeling of distrust and paranoia on all sides?

Where are the feminists? Why isn't anyone talking about the rampant sexism that allows for a total charlatan to beat a candidate whose only real handicap is that she's a woman?  I truly believe that if any other male opponent had run against Trump, that man would have won. By virtue of having  a penis. Because most of us, men and women alike, still believe that men know better, can govern better, have greater sense, are more inherently competent than a woman is. It's not true, and I can't imagine a male who exemplifies this more clearly that DT.

After lunch, the man who said he understood that I was emotional (a very nice person, I like him), said, I don't like him either, you know. I voted for Clinton. I said, Oh, okay, good. Glad to hear it.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Manchester by the Sea: A light and heart-warming comedy for the whole family

No, I am joking. It is not a comedy. Beware.

I went with Dan's mom to see Manchester by the Sea last night, not having any idea what it was about or any opinion about Casey Affleck, other than a certain tendency to discredit him because he's Ben Affleck's brother. There's nothing really wrong with Ben Affleck either, except he seems like a total guy, pretty un-nuanced. I am basing this only on the movie Good Will Hunting, which I haven't seen in ten years.

But anyway, it's a good thing I didn't have a clue about the plot of the movie, because I probably would have declined to go. In case you're also unaware, it's a story about a man who works as a janitor in Massachusetts. He's not surly, exactly, but he's not friendly, doesn't connect with people, drinks a lot of beer, and punches men out in bars. You wonder what's wrong with him. His brother (played by one of my favorite actors, Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights fame--never saw it--and Bloodline--did see all of the episodes and loved them) dies and Lee/Casey goes back to Manchester to handle the funeral arrangements. He's stoic when he sees his brother's body in the morgue, and you learn in a series of flashbacks that his brother had congestive heart failure, so his death wasn't unexpected. He also has a sixteen year old son and Lee soon discovers that his brother has left his house and boat to the brother, as well as guardianship of his boy, Patrick. The movie moves back and forth between present day and past as we discover why it is that Lee is so hard to reach. I knew when we saw a flashback of him with his then-wife and their three children that things were not going to end well. He didn't appear to have any children in the present day, which meant that only something terrible could have happened to them.

Do you want to know what it was? Keep reading.

Turns out that about six years prior, he had a bunch of loud guy friends over to play pool, they got wired and drunk, he sent them home at 2 a.m., and then stumbled out into the snow to get more beer. When he returned home, the house was on fire. His wife lived, but the children did not. Later, you see two of them emerge from the fire in black body bags. Before he left the house, he started a fire in the fireplace to keep everyone warm, but forgot to put the grate up. Hence, he is accidentally the cause of his children's deaths.

What's great about the movie is that we don't get all of these scenes. Much of that part of the story line is told by Lee to the police after the fact. We also aren't privy to the wife's reaction at the time, though we can imagine it was terrible, and we later see the two of them interact, her trying to apologize for the terrible things she's said. She has moved on, as much as possible, is remarried and has a new baby. He has not moved on.

The conflict of the movie is whether or not returning home and trying to raise his dead brother's son will redeem him, or bring him back to life somehow. And the other great and horrible thing about the movie is that it does not save him. His brother has tried, after his death, to give him another chance to become part of the living world, instead of dragging around alone, but Lee can't do it. At least, not completely. He's better, but, as he tells Patrick near the end, "I can't beat it." He can't forgive himself, he can't forget his children, and he can't trust himself to take care of another person. That's realistic, but does not make for a joyful viewing. We end the movie with Patrick and Lee on the boat fishing, and we see that Lee is better than he was, but also that he will probably never recover. I cried more than once, but the movie isn't sentimental. It is humorous, but I can't recommend it unless you are less sensitive than me, or don't mind stifling back sobs in the middle of a theater. It's also two hours and fifteen minutes long. You keep thinking it's about to end, and then it doesn't. Kind of like grief.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Attending someone else's high school reunion = Dante's Inferno

We went to Dan's 30th reunion a few weeks ago, which is not something I recommend you do as a partner who does not know a single person other than your SO. Women kept thinking they recognized me, but just couldn't place me. There would be a moment where I'd catch someone's eye, and she'd go, Hey! her eyebrows flying up, ready to give me a hug, and I'd be say, Hi! I didn't go to your high school. And then she'd swing away, taking a big sip of chardonnay.

Which reminds me that huge social events where you know almost no one would be so much easier if I still drank. I mean, easier in the short term, because I would stop feeling so awkward after about one glass, but it would likely be bad in the long run, because I stopped drinking in part due to the day-after regrets. I am not a person who can have one glass of any alcohol--like, why? Why just the one when you can have ALL of it? The more you drink, the more you erase all of the uncomfortable feelings and the more you start asking strangers how they feel about abortion or growing up in a rural area or if they ever knew anyone who died tragically, etc. This behavior then leads to being distracted while talking to someone as you begin to wonder when you can end the conversation to make your way back to the bar. The next day, you wake up feeling like your head is full of cotton fluff, and you start to remember, in bits and pieces, all of the weirdo questions you asked or dancing with your arms akimbo to Boy George or flirting with a man in a flannel shirt who turns out to be from another party. I do not like to experience that nearly inevitable day-after glow of shame, and so I stopped drinking four years ago (with one lapse at a single event two years ago, but I am allowing myself not to count that). Four plus years of sobriety and how many slightly painful events where everyone else drank? Five dozen? I've learned that I do get a sort of contact high around people who are drinking. As their inhibitions slip, I too can become looser and sillier and perhaps more myself without worrying about how I appear to them, because they probably won't remember later.

Anyway, going to someone else's high school reunion completely sober is not something I recommend unless you are a documentary filmmaker. It wasn't terrible, but I spent most of the night sitting at a table, attempting to make conversation with one or two other interlopers and waiting for the dessert tray to be served.

I think the other thing that's hard about reunions with people you didn't stay in contact with is that it tends to emphasize rather than close that gap. I mean, you can talk for a while about teachers you had, or other classmates who died or disappeared, but then what? I liked high school, but it wasn't the highlight of my life, and I don't have any super vivid memories outside of a handful of funny incidents. And I know I would attend hoping that something significant would be resolved; I'd run into a few people who would tell me illuminating stories about myself that would cause me to question my identity and re-think my entire life. That happens, right? And of course I'd want all of the stories to be positive, like someone saying "Remember that time after PE when you told me I'd didn't smell that bad? I was planning on running away that night, but your comment stopped me." Or, "Remember in Mr. Shaw's drama class when you did that monologue from The Spoon River Anthology? You were so good, I always thought I'd see you on TV one day." And my fear would be that someone might tell me I was really mean to them, or a snob, or that they'd formed a secret club to make fun of me. From going to Dan's reunion, I'm pretty sure that neither thing will happen.

I'm going anyway. And I'll stay sober and I'll try not to expect too much.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fear of floods and fire

Post apocalyptic dreams last night, topped off by the smoke alarm beeping to wake me up and the dog going into PTSD afterwards, shivering for ten minutes as he crawled onto our pillow. I dreamed that an old friend of mine and his wife were having marital troubles and he was stalking her, and so we were trying to protect her, but then we realized that the sea level was rising quickly, and he got swallowed up whole by a giant fish. We had to gather our family to escape as we watched the water creep forward to envelope the condo we were in, and it was filled with more huge sharks and other creatures who wanted to eat us. We got into the car and started to drive away, but the threat was that we would have to keep moving to higher and higher ground, because we were going to be inevitably swallowed up by water. My social worker friend at work has informed me dreams of being overtaken by water have to do with something you're not dealing with in your life. I am sure there are many things I should face more readily.

However, I've been reading the "best of" mystery series right before bed, so that's part of the problem. The dream also comes on the heels of a bunch of news stories about Trump's antagonism and conflicts of interest with countries who have a growing stockpile of nuclear weapons. I truly think that this could be the end of the world, and that we will get nuked by Iran or Korea or China. Actually, New York or DC will get nuked, and so we might sort of be destroyed, but not totally. Maybe we would die slowly of radiation poisoning over the next several years. Does the Trump Tower have a bomb shelter?  I keep thinking how we take so much for granted, and worry about such bullshit, when we should be happy we're not living in Aleppo at this moment.

Maybe I should become a survivalist and begin stockpiling batteries and canned goods.   Maybe the people we collectively classify as nut jobs who have bomb shelters are on to something.  They can start over, like the surviving humans in The Walking Dead. Or maybe this is all showmanship and this PE has no intention of causing damage, but I would say that because he has a personality disorder of some kind (most likely narcissism), he will only become more out of touch with reality and less inclined to consider the consequences of his words and actions as his power grows.

To recap: we have elected a man whose wife cribbed a speech from the current first lady, who jokes about shooting someone on the street and still getting elected, who mocks disabled people, who brags about sexually assaulting women, who says his daughter is hot, who recommends that gun activists might influence the election by shooting the other candidate, who communicates policy via social media, who brags about not ever having read a book or sent an email, who attacks celebrities and college students and anyone else who opposes him, who lies repeatedly and bigly (as he would say), who has no experience in office, who refuses to release his taxes to reveal potential conflicts of interest, who opposes regulation because it might get in the way of business practices, who has selected people to surround him who are affiliated with white supremacy, who constantly reinforces negative stereotypes about minorities and women, who may or may not have made promises to a Russian leader in exchange for influencing the election, who constantly undermines institutions meant to protect our country, and who will use any opportunity for personal financial benefit. That's the list I can come up with off the top of my head.

I would like to see someone come up with a list of like offenses about Hillary Clinton. Not her husband, who is not running for office, but Hillary.  And one of those things cannot be that she stood by her man while he cheated on her, sorry. That does not make her unfit for office. Something else, beyond the abuse of email, which if you're working in an office and send even one personal email from a work computer, you are doing too. Not that it's okay to do this, most especially if you're in public office. But I've yet to hear a compelling argument that the two candidates are equivalent in their transgressions. Clinton is a career politician, and that comes with all the good and the bad of such a role. For me, the fact that she understands the political landscape is a bonus, not a detriment, most particularly when you compare her to Donald, who believes he doesn't need to know what's happening in the world to understand it.

Also, because it's the holiday season, I keep thinking how we act as if the U.S. President is Santa Claus, or Jesus, or someone who is supposed to fix everything around us and who is the cause of all the ills of the country. The president has limited powers. S/he cannot fix or destroy everything. Whatever you happen to love or hate about Obama or Clinton or Trump, they are not the sole gift givers or gift taker-away-ers.  At least I hope this proves true with Donald, because he is a Scrooge way more than he is a Santa Claus.

Add your own paranoid cat pictures

I find it utterly infuriating that we have so little information from the PE that half the articles written about him are supposition, based on previous positions while still using the caveat that he is likely to change his mind. Sentences like, "He said he was going to repeal Obamacare, but then he softened on it, but now he's appointing people who want to do away with it, but yesterday he said he believes all Americans should have health care, but an hour later, he gave a thumbs up to a private organization meant to review policies, but today, he's saying he'll let us know in another week or so."  That's firstly. Secondly, it is fucking unacceptable that the PE refuses to live in DC and, thirdly, it's ridiculous and embarrassing that he also claims to be smart enough not to need daily security briefings. "They'll come to me if something's up," is basically what he told a reporter on Fox News (see--I have been trying to get outside of my bubble).

DO your job. That is your job. You may have to go to meetings you don't want to attend. You are not a king, you're now a politician, which is what you said you wanted to be.  And guess what? A lot of that shit will be boring. But that's too bad, because you are an elected official to the highest office we have, and now, you have to do things you don't want to do. Or else leave office. That's the deal, dude.

Many like to give him credit for having this underlying secret plan that we're just not yet aware of, but I suspect it's more like a scattershot approach based on his mood and who he likes or who he's mad at, and also based on an understandable lack of knowledge about what he's dealing with. He's not a stupid person, so while it's not ideal or even really acceptable that he needs to know more about the intricacies of foreign policy, it's comprehensible because these things are deep and complicated and unclear. But he needs to try to understand it before making any rash moves, and that's where he's dangerous. I don't think he is premeditated, and that's okay, if you're dealing with a TV show and gambling only with ratings, but it is decidedly not okay if you are making decisions that can lead to nuclear disaster.

I hear planes fly close to our house now and I think, Is that someone getting ready to drop a bomb? Am I wrong in thinking that diplomacy is a delicate balance that requires a careful touch? I confess I didn't pay that much attention in world history class, though I had an awesome history teacher (Mr. O'Donnell, a bearded man who used to dress up in costumes to get us excited about the Vikings or Hannibal the elephant guy), but I am pretty sure you aren't supposed to make impulsive decisions with countries who have been fighting for centuries.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Flip again

I am not a person who believes in conspiracy theories generally and I don't read overtly fringe websites, though I did stumble on one the other day claiming that the 911 attacks were perpetuated by insiders, not Muslim terrorists. I don't believe that the pharmaceutical companies are in cahoots with research to stop a cure for cancer. I don't believe that JFK was killed by two gunman. I find it difficult to believe that Princess Diana's car crash was set up by the royal family. At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if any one of these things are true, because deception is often just under the surface when money or power is concerned. I'll admit that one of my favorite quotes is "behind every great fortune is a crime," though the actual quote by Balzac is actually "The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been found out, because it was properly executed."

At the same time, I wouldn't have believed you ten years ago if you had told me that banks and Wall Street would conspire to give subprime mortgage loans to people they knew couldn't afford them, thereby causing the collapse of the housing market and leaving many bankrupt. And I am not entirely sure what happened with Watergate, but I am certain that many Americans were shocked to discover President Nixon was involved in a massive cover-up and multiple abuses of power against the DNC. And when Trump won despite almost all statistical evidence saying that he wouldn't, I was shocked. Then everyone from the NYT to Nate Silver's 538 blog to Michael Moore found rational reasons to explain it and suggest that they were only a little wrong or were looking for data in the wrong places (exit polls weren't accurate, more Americans were upset than we realized, half the nation bailed on voting). It still didn't make sense to me. I thought from the beginning that something was wrong with the numbers, but at the same time, as everyone scrambled to re-position themselves into understanding what had happened, I had to acknowledge that I was possibly naive and misled. I thought too that it was strange that Trump kept claiming that the election was rigged, in a way that suggested either that he too was positive he would lose, or he knew that it actually was rigged. He often makes claims that are projections of his own psyche, so it wouldn't be that strange for him to tell the truth without even being aware that he was doing so, in the same way that he lies without seeming to realize he's lying.

However though (as one of my English teachers, Mrs. Bytheway used to say), I heard Michael Lewis talking on NPR this week about his new book, The Undoing Project, and he was talking about this idea of confirmation bias, defined by Psychology Today as occurring "from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true." In other words, if I believe that Trump is a mean liar, whenever he opens his mouth, I interpret what he says as lying and mean, even if it isn't (but it usually is). So, I will continue to try to see things more objectively, or at least be aware that I am viewing things through a certain lens of my own bias.

But could it be true that the election was rigged? And could it be true that the CIA will investigate? And that we may have to vote again? Or elect Hil? I'd rather vote again without any interference, because I cannot imagine the vitriol and resistance she would face if she were named president elect at this point. I call do over.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dreaming of a Non-White Man Christmas

I gave up the news for about two weeks after the election because I couldn't stomach it and didn't want to see his gloating orange face on TV, spreading more fear and mistrust every time he speaks. I have since let the news back in a little at a time, and am trying to do what someone recommended recently; to get out of our bubbles of news and try to listen to other points of view. I've attempted that too, though maybe not as much as I should. I am trying to watch Fox News or to at least pay attention to voices of those who are happy to have Trump as president, so I can understand why and maybe find a point of connection. But then I'll read about him bad-mouthing a union rep or giving a rally where he makes the idea of using gender neutral pronouns seem like a joke (at his rally yesterday, he pointed out that he was named "Man of the Year" not "Person of the Year," making the point that inclusion is for nasty women only), and then I turn sour again. 
I've also been reading a lot about how liberals are too polite and need to be more like him and employ similar tactics by raging instead of disagreeing. No one has said we should start telling outright lies, but it seems that you have to inflammatory to be heard. I've thought a little bit about what lies I could try to spread about him--like the one his former staffer told about Clinton that almost got people shot in the pizza parlor this week--but it's hard to stretch the imagination to something more outrageous than what he's actually doing. Something about his teeny, tiny micro penis? But that's juvenile, right? (And probably true anyway). And, more importantly, it doesn't feel good to get mean. It feels ugly. Is there some way to fight back that doesn't lower you to the status of an internet troll? I've had maybe one unhappy exchange with a Trump supporter on Twitter who didn't like what I wrote, but she wasn't mean, and I still didn't like it. 
I'm afraid too. I'm afraid to hurt someone's feelings or to misunderstand what someone means or to be perceived as a jerk. And I'm afraid of hateful responses, because I also don't want to get hurt. Maybe Twitter should shut down for a week or two. Could they do that? Could they force the PE to speak to reporters instead of broadcasting via social media platforms in short, hateful bursts? 
The victory tour rallies he's holding across the country feel more like a continued push to splinter the country and reinforce rhetoric of dissension against anyone who believes in equality measures, justice, or the use of non-gendered language. And now today, you have more of the same with him blasting the CIA for even suggesting Russia was involved in the election, despite mounting evidence that Russia's interference most certainly had an impact on voting. I hesitate to hope that an investigation could delay his inauguration or impact his nomination, but it would make sense given that he won the electoral colleges by a slim margin. Would they really consider doing another election? Something is rotten in Putin land. Can't they force him to release his taxes so that we can see what his ties are to other countries or governments? Someone must know. Please tell. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fear and loathing in the cabinet

If I could find one positive thing about Trump, maybe I could somehow stomach these horrid choices he's making for high profile positions. Like, one person who is in favor of some form of social justice. These are comically bad people for the positions they're taking on; either because they have little to no experience with the role they're about to have, or because they are so far removed from the issues they must face due to their personal wealth. A doctor with no political experience as director of HUD; a man who believes people in poverty should do the whole up-by-the-boot-straps thing and will likely support slashing public housing initiatives. An EPA director who doesn't believe in climate change.  A vice president who is adamantly anti gay, and anti gay marriage, who believes in conversion therapy. A national security adviser who was fired by the Obama administration for mismanagement and who tweeted that he believes that "fear of Muslims is rational." An opponent of higher minimum wages for the labor department (sorry, struggling lower middle class folks who need a living wage, not from this guy).  A former Goldman Sachs billionaire for the treasurer. Another billionaire for secretary of commerce. These are not people who understand the struggles of the lower or middle class; they are people who want to give tax cuts to the wealthy and deregulate the government so they can make more money. Who else? Another climate-change skeptic for the Interior Department. An outspoken critic of Obamacare for Department of Health and Human Services. A secretary of the Department of Education who supports school vouchers, so that families who can get their kids away from "those icky poor people" (quotes mine).  An ambassador to the United Nations who has no international experience. Best of all, an alt-right wing KKK nationalist for chief strategist. Like, it almost funny  that he is not able to choose a single person who might have a moderate view.

My hope is that the people he chooses will actually get close to those whose lives they are trying to impact negatively--talk to some people who don't have affordable housing, some teachers who are over-stressed and need more money in schools, some refugees who want to live in a safe country--and find that they can't support legislation that knowingly create a greater divide. My other hope is that people will continue to speak out about what's happening and to use their own voices to say what they think.  So, if you're a writer, write about it. That's what I have to do. I don't think I can in good conscience blog about The Bachelor while this is going on. It feels totally wrong not to do something more meaningful. Everyone--not just people who voted for Hillary or people who voted for Donald--should share their thoughts and try to find a way to make sense of why a large section of the country thought we needed a narcissistic, thin-skinned, creepy reality star in the White House. And why we are surprised when he turns out to be as shitty of a person in office as he was prior to taking office. If not shittier.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The five stages of grief as applied to this presidential election, 2016

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross first published On Death and Dying in 1969, wherein she described the five stages of grief people go through when someone close to them dies or when they realize that their time on earth is finite, likely to be cut short by a terminal cancer or other fatal health complication. This election, those stages keep circling around in my brain, because it does feel like something died today. It would be hard to define what exactly it was that died and easy to say it was hope, but that's too sentimental. Maybe it's more like a faith or certainty that Hillary Clinton would win--had to win. She was clearly the much more prepared candidate, performed well in all three debates, had the backing of the President and other well-known figures, and was surrounded by a team of really smart people who know how to run campaigns. And then there's her competitor; the man for whom the word "buffoon" was designed--ill-prepared, angry, unqualified, wildly temperamental; a rich narcissistic who has never held public office and who can't string together four sentences without repeating one he's already said. A joke. A racist, a sexual predator, a baby-man whose most public debates are with other celebrities and often one-sided. And he won. I guess I find it hard to believe that even one person voted for him, so trying to conceive that half of the country voted for him is like learning that the law of gravity is false and we are all really just floating around in outer space. It does still feel like a bad dream, The Trumpman Show, something constructed specifically for me to overcome because it can possibly be reality. This means I am still in the denial/shock phase of the five stages of bereavement.

The denial stage is when you turn off the TV at 11 p.m., exhausted by the moment to moment numbers rolling in, and then wake up again at 3:45 a.m. to see that CNN is reporting that Trump won. That can't possibly be right. Dan and I stare at the TV. I check my phone to see what The New York Times is saying, and they have already posted a long article exclaiming about the upset. Denial is going back to bed and believing you will be able to fall asleep and then dreaming that you were dreaming the whole thing and then waking up and thinking, I bet if I check my phone again, they will have discovered that 5 billion election votes for Hillary were deleted by Putin. And then that doesn't happen and because you're tired and dismayed, you go into work and cry in front of your boss while apologizing for being out of sorts.

The next stage is anger. That stage, too, is close to the surface. I'm angry at everyone. I am angry at the people who voted for someone based on whatever it was--the belief that he will keep them safe, or not support abortion, or build a wall--or keep the "others" from what they believe belongs to them. "Make America Great Again" really means "Make America White Again." I'm mad too at anyone who didn't vote, or who voted for Gary What's His Name, or who said they didn't like either candidate and weren't going to vote at all. I'm mad at the Republican party for not being able to hold onto a different candidate, someone who is not at least so obviously unstable (I first typed "criminally insane"), and then for not stopping Trump somehow. The wafflers who supported him when he seemed to be winning and decried him when he seemed to be losing, and then voted for him knowing that he's dangerous for our country. I'm mad at the media for acting like these were two equally qualified candidates and for giving hours and hours and hours and hours of free advertising to an orangutan and for not pursuing stories that could damage him and for not screaming from the rooftops that this guy is unacceptable. I'm mad at the aging white men who voted for him because they are afraid of losing their place in the world, for not accepting change, for not seeing that we will never go back to the 1950s, that our country has diversified and will continue to diversify, even if you try to build a wall to keep people out. I'm mad at the inherent sexism in the fabric of our day to day life that allows for a man who has been accused of sexual assault, who jokes about abusing his power to molest women, to be appointed to the highest office we have in our country. I'm mad at the women who voted for him, for their own reasons, because they are used to being told what to do by a male figure and/or are also afraid that they no longer look at the country and see themselves specifically reflected back. I'm especially mad at the man who sat outside of Princeton University day after day holding a Trump sign, and who was there again this morning, with his sign, sitting in his chair, this white-haired old man. He was laughing as he looked at his phone. His guy won.

The stage after anger is bargaining. That's where you make deals with god or the universe or whatever you believe in. Okay, I promise that if this can really not happen, if like, maybe Trump and Pence were suddenly in an unforeseeable and painless but utterly fatal car wreck, or if Trump said, "You know what, I'd rather build another gold something, this job isn't for me," if something miraculous can occur, then I will be good for the rest of my days. I will defend the weak and not get impatient when someone is taking too long ordering his double cafe mocha. I will volunteer at a homeless shelter, I will take in run-aways, I will adopt any baby that needs me, I will donate a huge portion of my monthly salary to disabled veterans, I will not bitch about dirty dishes in the sink, I will read to the blind, I may even set foot in church again and try to pray.  I might even accept swapping out any one of the Bush family, because at least by comparison, they seem benign. Anything, anything, anything, universe, if you can make this have NOT happened.

Next is depression. That's when you realize that you can't undo what's already happened and you have to face the present moment, the one where you can anticipate much more of the same hate speech, the same call for locking up people who disagree with you, the ongoing embarrassment on the world stage that yes, as Americans, we are so shallow and short-sighted and naive to think that one man can turn back the clock to a time of when whiteness ruled, when no black people would dare to run for president, when no non-straight people would even think of kissing in public, and no woman would dream that she could be in charge of anything more than her own children. And I understand that what I should try to empathize with those who support Trump; to understand that they must be hurting and afraid, feeling disenfranchised and marginalized--why else would they vote in someone whose only concern, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, is to do what feels right for him in any given moment? And so that is when you just feel sad and despairing, mad at yourself for thinking only just the day before that we have come so far, that we are ready for change and acceptance, and then being faced with that crooning white guy sitting in his lawn chair in front of Princeton University, so happy because he thinks he has won.

Last is acceptance. That's where you come to terms with the loss, and try to find the silver lining. Like, well, at least Alec Baldwin will have a job for the next four years. He's pretty funny, even if this situation is not. At least, as someone said to me today, you have your health. At least you are not dying slowly from brain cancer (as far as you currently know--perhaps this whole thing is not happening and instead, you're brain is dying).  At least some of this may end up being entertaining. Or maybe he will not be so easily swayed into changing progressive reform and say, "Just kidding, guys, I support the LGBTQ community and I'm for stronger gun legislation and equal pay for women and global initiatives that save our planet instead of destroying it, and health care for every single person in America." Remember that he used to be a Democrat. Remember that he has some people around him who might be able to persuade him that it's not in his best interest to pull out of NATO or to bomb a country that dares to disparage him or try to ban the media from printing exactly what he said.

But I'm not there yet. I have no desire to turn on the news and listen as pundits who were sure Hillary would win scramble to re-organize their arguments to say that they didn't mean exactly that. I don't want to see Rudy Giuliani's toad-like face as he accepts whatever position Trump has promised him in exchange for his humanity, or the deer-in-headlights stumbling around of Melania, our new first lady, as she tries to find her place as something more than an arm trophy for a man 30 years older than her. I am mad at Anderson Cooper for not halting any one of his news shows to say, "Hey, am I only the one here who thinks this guy is a fucking monster?" and so I don't want to see him figuring out how to convincingly cover whatever crazy, unreal narrative is going to spin out over the next four years.

I'm stuck among denial and anger and depression and not ready for people who are saying we should all just band together for the greater good. I don't feel like moving toward acceptance. I am sick of going high when they go low. Those feelings will change, surely, but today, I grieve.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Let's talk about our twenties instead of watching the news

Just finished watching the last episode of the most recent Girls after a three-week binge starting in Season 3 due to a free HBO offer that expires tomorrow.  The show makes me miss my twenties, but never, ever wish to go through them again. In my twenties, I thought I just wanted to find a guy, marry him, and start having babies. Well, part of me wanted to do that. The other part of me, the one who was running the show, wanted to only date unavailable men, stay single, go to grad school, and keep moving. That part dominated until my late thirties (it's still there...though I have lost the need to destroy relationships. Or maybe I am moving on to destroying them at a much slower rate. You'd have to ask Dan). In my twenties, I always felt like I was behind. I wasn't far enough along in my career (what career?), I didn't have enough savings, I wasn't following the path that many of my friends were on; the path that worked to create families and stability.

Here are the guys I dated guys in my twenties (please note: "dated" signifies anything from one night hanging out together to a string of nights to a two year relationship: an Armenian dental student who told me my breasts were too big, a guy who was moving to Australia the next day, a married Irish cook at themed restaurant, three other bartenders from the same restaurant (one of whom was the long term--a not very tall Italian man who ran marathons and also drank half a bottle of Absolut vodka a night. He was handsome, compact, ten years older than me, and an alcoholic. And a writer. We had the most cinematic break up ever. Me, running away down the street in my pajamas after finding a hidden glass full of vodka and him chasing after me, calling my name. Cue Death Cab, except I didn't listen to Death Cab then. Cue Liz Phair. What happened to him? He died. I don't know how, but I Googled his name about five years ago and found his obit).

Where was I? A French orthodontist student who snorted cocaine on a coffee table on a Monday night and said, "What am I doing? I have lab tomorrow." A medical student who had a vanity license plate and whose ex-girlfriend's tampons were still underneath his bathroom sink. Her name was also Amy. He took me to meet his parents too quickly and left me to small talk with them while he washed his car. A Indian periodontal student who was allergic to my cats and so every time we tried to kiss, he sneezed on my face. A guy who went by his initials and had a cute white dog. I kicked him out of my apartment after he over-performed (you'll note that I have not gone into any real detail in the bedroom. I do that in my fiction; not so much on a blog my mom can read).

The boy from the mail room, who I used to take into empty classrooms. I believe I was trying to prove something, but I don't know what--that I was a free spirit? This confuses guys in their twenties because they think it means you're like that with everyone. I guess they were kind of right.  The mail room boy didn't last long because he started taking another secretary into a different classroom. A law student who wore only white t-shirts, spoke in a sexy scratch voice, and would only kiss me for the first time if I pretended to be sleeping (or dead?). He liked to take baths and may have been a sociopath. He's the only man I dated who I thought might hurt me physically. When I broke up with him, he made me a mixed tape of opera music from The Omen.

Not really any of my fellow writing students from DePaul. There were two guys I liked. One had a girlfriend (though I didn't know this for a really long time) and the other was so jumpy that we could never even sit on the same sofa together. He's married now. They're both married now. I think one may have a son named Elvis.

P.S. I am not counting any of the boys from my last year in college. Add, like, six actors who, bar none, recited soliloquies before the first kiss. The theater guys are the best and the worst of all. Best because they're often playing a leading role, and ditto for the worst.

And what did I learn? I learned that nothing mattered except what I did for myself, and I did very little for myself in my twenties because I was trying so hard to be someone else---a catch, a flirt, a tease, a mixed-signaler, and was at once too needy while also too quick to find fault. I was Hannah and a little bit of Jessa (though never as cool) and never Marnie-enough. Shoshanna--I don't relate to her, but I still liked her. What I finally did for myself was to take writing seriously and apply for grad school. I could start a list of boys from my thirties--and you would discover that my twenties lasted well into my thirties.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Why "I couldn't help myself" is not an acceptable excuse

For obvious reasons, there's lots of discussion lately about sexual assault. I had a conversation with a friend the other day where we compared whether or not we had been sexually assaulted. We decided we hadn't, not in the blatant ways they're talking about now. Though it's true that no strange man has ever grabbed me on the street, I have felt threatened by men, or assessed by men, or worried about men while out and about, particularly when I lived in Chicago in my twenties. But unwanted attention doesn't always come from strangers, it more often happens with someone you know.  I can't count the number of times some guy I know has accidentally touched me where he shouldn't--just a brush by, often with an apology. Same goes for unwanted contact with men I've dated. Women say yes to things or more accurately "not no" to sexual encounters way more than men might think. We're caught in this weird bind where if you don't want to fool around, the guy might loose interest or think you're uptight and if you do say yes, they also might think you're easy or indiscriminate. Sometimes (many times?), we say yes (or again, not no) because we (1). don't want to hurt your feelings, (2). are afraid you won't like us, (3). are used to it and no longer think it matters; (4). have bought the biological argument that you just can't help yourselves.

The claim now is that the women are inventing the attacks, because they didn't come forward sooner. Why would they come forward in the moment? Who would take them seriously? They know that the following options are a likely outcome: no one will believe them and they will be harassed, threatened, and called liars; if they are believed, they will be considered too sensitive because who cares if some guy grabs your breast? Third option is that they will be accused of being complicit in the act, egging the guy on by dressing provocatively or drinking too much or smiling in his general direction. The likely outcome of an unwanted kiss or an opportunistic grope is almost never jail time, or a fine, or any other penalty. In fact, that kind of behavior from men is often rewarded or encouraged by other men. High five, dude. Or, as DT would say, I couldn't help myself. 

How do you want us to prove it? Because even when you have proof, even when the man brags about doing it, it's still not believed.The truth is, I think most people do believe he did it, they just don't think it matters. I'm waiting for the moment when DT accidentally says what many are thinking, "Grow a pair of balls, ladies. Get over it. It's not like you were raped." That's true. Rape is much more traumatizing in many, many ways. But sexual assault is insidious. It confirms what many women fight against, which is this medieval idea that we don't have the right to our own bodies or space; that we are still, in many ways, property whose value is determined by how "do-able" we are.

If you are a heterosexual male of consenting age, my guess is that you have had moments of behavior with women that are iffy. I don't mean that every guy is a rapist; just that he has likely been in a situation where he pushed or insisted or begged or asserted when he knew the woman wasn't really interested. And if you have a culture that calls that behavior okay (or even condones it), it's a slippery slope.

I wonder, do men worry when they walk down the street at night that someone might come up to them from behind, shove them into an unlit place, and rape them? Does that thought ever cross their minds? It does for me. I think about it every time I'm out walking the dog past sunset.

Even posting this seems risky to me, like I'll make someone mad or sound like an hysterics who makes blanket statements. But if those women can say something and know that they're going to get crucified by the pro-Trumpets, so can I.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Watching the Wire, 12 Years Later

We don't tend to be up on TV series, especially those on paid movie channels like HBO or Showtime, and I have no idea what I was watching in the mid-2000s when The Wire was on (besides The Bachelor). Never got hooked on any of the network shows either. Grey's Anatomy seemed like a more soap opera-ish version of ER and none of cop procedurals ever measured up to Homicide or even further back, Hill Street Blues. Current shows like Scandal or How to Get Away with Murder or Mistresses seem geared toward college students. Okay, but so, we got free HBO for three months and started The Wire, in large part because everyone who has seen it raves about it, and Dan has never quite recovered from Breaking Bad, which set the bar high, high, high for him. We're now up to season 3, episode 3 and it feels like we are watching it in hopes of getting hooked. We are not hooked. We care mostly about Omar, but less so about McNulty or any of the other cops. I liked season 1, which focused mostly on the development of this special team of police misfits at war with drug lords in Baltimore. Season 2 brought the union story line and was moderately compelling, if you care about the struggles of underpaid dock workers who smuggle women and drugs for minor profits. Season 3 seems to be focused on the governmental arm of corruption and we're still not energized by it.

My guess is that much of its popularity came from the fact that it was the first of its kind, a show that followed a large cast of characters and points of view at a fairly slow pace, giving equal time to the investigative arm and the drug sellers side (both portrayed with equal sympathy). It set up a path for later shows that borrowed from the idea that single episodes weren't stand alone pieces, but tied together into more and more intricate story lines of a big cast, with no single character fixed at the center. Having seen some of those inspired programs first and this series later, it's hard to be blown away by the narrative. The pace is slow, and we're often confused by what's actually happening, especially with the various lieutenants and majors and officers and politicians doing underhanded deals, and the turf wars among drug sellers. The tech end of it isn't compelling, because it's basically about listening to phone calls, which may have been novel in the early 2000s, but is less fresh now. And for me, there's also the fact that you have only two major female characters (a cop and a district attorney), and the rest of the cast and story lines revolve around dudes. For some reason, though, we're reluctant to give it up; still moving forward under the persuasion of other viewers who loved it, but watching it seems more like a dogged commitment than a pleasure. 

I'd love it if someone who watched the show when it was on would go back and start it again to see if it has the same power today as it did when it first aired. Adam??

Write whatever you want

I'm reading this pretty goofy (but fun) book I got at the library called Dear Emma. I'm certain there's a tie-in to the Austen book, but I haven't read Emma in a while, so I'm not keyed into the parallels.

This book is a first-person account of life in college as told by Harriet, who writes an advice column for the school newspaper called "Dear Emma." She's in love with a guy from one of classes who has ghosted away and is now dating her co-worker at the library. I read half of it yesterday in a blink because it's entertaining.

This morning, I was thinking about a recent column I wrote for Philadelphia Stories about MFA programs (to do or not to do), and then thinking it would be enjoyable to write a satire of MFA's though this must have been done to death. And then I also dismissed the idea out of hand because it wasn't potentially serious enough for a first published novel. It wonder if other people do this--reject a writing idea for not being Updike-ian enough before it's even written. It's not like I have 500 other novel ideas and this one is among the masses. I have actually one other novel idea that I haven't fleshed out which probably would be more serious, but would also require research.

So, that's my excuse for not embarking on novel idea that does have more emotional center; I might have to read a book about hospital practices. But then I've been reading more Joyce Carol Oates than usual (coincidentally just finished a book by her called Jack of Spades about an author who also writes gruesome novels under a pen name) and she seems not to weigh the external factors (should I write a book that is not so loosely based on the brother of Jon Bennett Ramsey? Should I write a book about a pedophile who wants to lobotomize kids to be his sex slaves? Should I write a book called Rape: A Love Story?), but to say F-it and write it anyway. Of course, she is JCO.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Nightmares & Trains

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Slut book

Finished a collection of short stories called Barbara the Slut by Lauren Holmes that was funny and engaging and not that deep. There were about 10 stories and maybe all of them were in first person and a few were told from the point of view of a teenager, but not in a cutified way. One story was told from the point of view of a dog. I skipped that one the first time around, but went back to it after I ran out of other stories. Nothing deep about them--I mean, for the title one, you didn't get all of this detail about why the teenager slept with all of these boys--except maybe because she had an autistic brother and over-educated and slightly clueless parents, but I liked that about it--that she was just a girl who didn't really know how to be around boys and thought she had to sleep with them.

It reminded me that I don't have to try so hard to give back story or meaning to my stories. That there doesn't have to be some big reveal, but I just have to render it in a funny or interesting or truthful way. It makes me want to go back to the Hammersly story and figure it out a bit more, because it's not all that different from what Holmes was writing, and in fact, is a little bit more interesting and dark. Maybe she got her collection published by Penguin because she went to the Iowa Writer's Workshop.

Maybe I should send my work to the same publisher: Riverhead Books. Yes, ten stories and all of them are first person. That's almost like cheating. I'm also still interested in the serial killer of men one. Maybe that should just be a short story told from the point of view of the detective in charge of the case.

He who should be named lest you call up the devil

Donald Tr*** continues to amaze and incite with his "Nuremberg-like rallies" (says Martin Amis in an article about Trump's books) and his latest proposal is that we ban all Muslims from the United States and then invade Iraq and take all of their oil to cut off their money supply.

Anderson Cooper had to interview a guy from Trump's staff and try to not to guffaw out loud as he was saying, "So, wait, you agree with Trump that we should go into Iraq, one of our allies, and take all of their oil? You don't think that will create even more dissent and radicals? And how exactly would we do this?"

The guy goes, "Well, Anderson, the devil is in the details. We'd have to figure out how to get it done, but I'll leave that up to the people who do this kind of thing."

The collective strategy of that group is to propose whatever preposterous, xenophobic, racist idea they can come up with ("Build a wall and make them pay for it! Take the oil! Send back the Muslim babies!") and then to say they will defer to the experts about how to execute said plan.

It's the Emperor's new clothes---you have all of these supposedly learned people espousing the most hateful nonsense who then react with a sense of wounded dignity whenever they're challenged.

Did you see this artwork of the new nude statues placed in cities across the country? No?


Friday, August 26, 2016


Reading Eggers' Heroes of the Frontier and wondering why he didn't call it Heroines of the Frontier since the central character, the one whose head we're inside, is a woman--a former dentist who has a loose-bowled ex-husband and two children--one brave and reckless (the girl) and one introspective and protective (the boy). She's at a crossroads in her life and decides to rent a rickety RV and take her children to Alaska to visit her friend/rival, Samantha. I thought I wouldn't like the book that much because I've been mostly reading mysteries, but it is funny and unexpected and not too big for its own britches. I also was resistant to the male author borrowing the female experience to tell the story, but it would be something else completely if the main character were a single dad--you'd have to focus on the weirdness of that, and he would almost be saintified by society for raising two kids on his own--so, I guess Eggers needed her to be a woman. She's also not preoccupied with finding a man--her focus is on figuring out who she's supposed to be, where she's supposed to be, what she's supposed to be. It's highly relatable and maybe highly American--this idea that in the land of opportunity, there are almost too many choices, too many ways to be dissatisfied. He writes this whole long great paragraph about disappointment that I am too lazy to retype here.

On the flip side, I know someone who knows DE and says he's an asshole. I guess it's not necessary that you like the writer, but I am disappointed that he's not a totally awesome guy (according to my source).

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Botox, babes, and bros

I missed the first fifteen minutes of paradizzz and all that's happened is that there's a new lady on the island who has gotten her claws into the unrecognizable, bearded Nick (former poet turned bro). The other women (particularly Mom x 2/Baby Voice) are upset because the new lady has had some lip work done and, of course, the false eyelashes.

Lace has taken it down a notch by doing only two shots instead of one before lunch. She's desperately trying to establish a relationship with Grant. We watch her take another shot. Vinny conveys this to Grant and so Grant decides to go find her. I hope she doesn't start crying because her fake eyelashes will come right off.  STOP drinking.

Meanwhile, Leah, the new girl, is on a one-on-one date with Nick. She says she's really attracted to his lumberjack look, even though he doesn't look at all like a lumberjack. They kiss as the sun sets behind their heads, but we know from the previews that she will go home soon.  Baby voice talks to her child but we can't tell who is speaking--her or the two year old. Nick gets the next date card because there are no rules in paradice-y. He chooses....Amanda. Leah's face falls as do her three necklaces. She's wearing two chokers and one longer necklace. Amanda tells one of the twins that she's super nervous. Leah comes over and says, "Stop trying to be me, Amanda. Just kidding!" Leah says she's on an emotional roller coaster.

Nick's hair cut is like a really short mullet. He wears jeans with a rip in the knee ala Pacey from season 2 of Dawson's Creek.  He takes Amanda out for giant glasses of wine at the local cabana. Amanda thinks she has a big heart and she's not a doormat, and she's so proud of herself for that. She can't stop touching her hair. We should all be wearing off the shoulder shirts, y'all. Next stop, the fire pit. They both proclaim to be having a great time and so make out  Leah is flabbergasted that this hasn't worked out for her.

Evan is hanging out with Carly on this huge mat. Carly is waiting for Evan to make a move on her and he won't. She wants him to stop being so sweet and throw her on the beach until her imprint is deeper than the Grand Canyon. She just wants a rose. Must we see him sitting in bed fondling his chest. She hated the kiss. It was unbearable. She can't believe he has actually reproduced. But...she's still into him.

Cut to drunk Lace walking on the beach and Lace asking Grant if he likes her or what. She also asks him if he wants to see her bruises and they kiss. Lace thinks he has a banging body and she loves that he's a firefighter. They go to bed together and she drinks the first sip of non-alcoholic beverage that she's had all day. Cue sound of moaning.

Amanda is flat-ironing her hair while Leah blows up a giant swan.

Tonight is the rose ceremony and Sarah is nervous because she's the only one with a missing arm. The guys all wear button down shirts, including Chris Harrison in his Barney's blazer. At least two of the ladies are going home, but if one of the twins gets a rose, the other one is allowed to stay as well, which seems unfair.

Sarah pleads her case with Vinny and he makes out with her. She has no trouble wearing a sleeveless dress. Then Izzy shows up and he downs a shot and then makes out with her. She purposefully puts both her arms around him.

Leah shows up in the brightest red lipstick I've ever seen but just the one necklace this time. Her titties are almost popping out. Nick listens with his super huge seashell ears. The guys are super confident because the women have to beg them for roses, like it's a job interview. "Look at me!" she says. Nick takes out his retainer to tell her that he's probably giving the rose to Amanda. Leah feels blind-sided, but she still has time to put on more lipstick and throw herself at someone else, including Daniel, the slimy Canadian who refers to himself as the big dog and an eagle who won't drop down to a pigeon level, but if he was going to bang someone tonight, it would be one of the twins. Just typing what he says.

Rose ceremony in paradizzy. Grant goes first. He has to pick Lace because she has on ten pounds of foundation and they had sex last night. Nick picks Amanda. Evan will pick Carly even though she hated the kiss. She giggles and hugs him like he's her brother. Ashton K./Jared will probably pick one of the twins...He picks Emily. Aw, Jubilee will go home. Vinny better not pick Izzy. He chooses to wear a short sleeved white shirt and gives the rose to...Izzy. Now Sarah has to depend on slimy Canadian to pick her. Daniel will pick Leah because he is super shallow. He loves the power. Oh...He picks Sarah. Ha-ha, Leah and Jubilee are going home. I mean, I'm sad for Jubilee, but not Leah.

A new day dawns and the power has shifted to the women. Josh shows up with s giant row of white teeth. Was he in another relationship? I can't remember if he got picked before or not--oh, right, Andi picked Josh over Nick and then it didn't work out. Josh tells Amanda that his eight year old dog has cancer. Amanda is about as interesting as a brown paper bag. A brown paper bag with a baby voice. Josh digs her, but would she really like him?  Andi wrote a tell-all and it's mostly about Josh and how horrible he was. They can be together. I do not care. Nick contemplatively walks on the beach, kicking crabs and not snorkeling with anyone.

Evan has decided to wear a patriotic wife beater with a flag on it. Carly says she needs to stop dating feminine guys. Who will she pick instead? Evan gets the date card and asks Carly. She pauses and says, Sure with hardly any enthusiasm. She has never not wanted to go on a date so much in her life. She decides not to change her clothes at all. They end up walking on to a stage filled with screaming fans. They have a chance to make history tonight by eating peppers in front of people.

Okay, guys, this is where I say good night. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Multiple cries for help

Observations: Nick has decided to knock it off with the poet demeanor to take on the beefcake persona. I think he may also be wearing a retainer as he sounds as if he has developed a lisp.

ED and Chad are back. Chad's face has become even more over-grown. Omigod, Chad has a Morkie. Chaplin is a Morkie. But Chap is way cuter. Chad's Mork is white and runny-eyed.

Remember Amanda and her two toddlers and her off the shoulder shirts (perhaps that's where JoJo got the idea)? She's back.

First to arrive is mommy x 2, followed by Nick. This is his third time on a Bachelor type show. Is no one going to comment on the crazy sound of the birds overtaking the stilted dialogue? I forgot that Amanda talks in a baby voice. Jubilee is arrival number three and she has earlier told us that she is practicing not looking like a bitch when her face is resting. Fourth = Evan aka The Penis Guy (according to Jubilee). Amanda likes that he's a dad. Vinny yells and he's in. Then that woman, Carly, who looks like an actress whose name I can't remember, but I will find a photo. When did greasy-looking, close to the head, tri colored hair come into vogue. Next is Grant, =the  black guy, then Cicada, I mean the Canadian.

I just remembered. Carly is the spitting image of Jenna from 30 Rock.

Canadian feels like all the women there are dogs. Or street mutts, rather. What kind of dog is he? I'm going to go with a dookie-eating Newfoundland.

The one-armed lady is back. She could wear a prosthetic. I think I've been over this territory before. Like, why should she conform to the standards, but also, is she just not wearing a prosthetic because the show won't let her because it's more interesting?  Chris goes to her, "Maybe it will work this time. Fingers crossed."  On the one hand.

Twins are next.  Then Izzy, who I don't remember at all, and then Lace, who is wearing--guess what--lace. She feels that she has made so much progress on herself and is now only drinking white wine. Unlike other shows, this one never seems to have commercials. And now, Ashton Kutchner/Jared. My favorite so far is Evan. He seems like the most normal of all and the most against type.

Chad shows up and apologizes to Evan. Lace feels like they've totally hit it off. She's wearing three layers of fake eyelashes. So is Carly. I guess they all are. And the ones who aren't look like they should be. Time to start doing shots and head stands. Here's how this works--if they're not in a serious relationship within 7 hours, they have to go home.

Lace has broken her promise to her yoga-self by getting slurringly-drunk within one hour. She fights with Grant for not asking her enough complex questions about herself. She asks Chad to show her the softer side of himself and then attempts to drown him in a man-made lagoon. Chad says he likes her because she's as psychotic as he is. Both are alphas and so are about to pee on each other. Lace wins.

Jubilee compliments Ashton/Jared by telling him that he's a big nerd and she admires that. Aside: they are sitting under a canopy of pinatas for no discernible reason, except to remind us that this is FUN! Until a clown shows up. The clown says that they are a beauitful couple except that Jared is losing is hair.

Izzy and Vinny couple up in the water. Vinny says he wears his heart on his bicep. Izzy wraps her legs around him as they float in the sea. Lace and Chad are making out and calling each other "bitches." He might beat her. He says he will throw her under a bus and she punches him in the stomach to show him how mean he's being. The crowd watches it happen while eating chicken wings. They are both very drunk and breaking up already as Carly points out, in the shortest amount of time in the show's history. Time for Lace to start crying her fake eyelashes off. Oh, nope, she didn't. She's telling him go drink some water. This show is really about alcohol addiction.

The Canadian guy is asking Chad if he still thinks he's like Hitler or Hannibal Lector. Sarah says she didn't come to paradise to be around drunk jerks who don't respect women. I wonder if he will say anything---oh, he did--he just said, "F*** that one-armed bitch." They all walk away. Sarah is crying. They have to let him stay on the show though because he's good TV. That's the same reason He Who Shall Not be Named (presidential candidate) got where he did. People love to watch bad behavior. I am no different.
Chad passes out and they don't worry that he might die.  A crab crawls in his hair and they turn up the sound effects of snoring as he chokes on his own vomit.

Day dawns and Lace seems to have recovered from her hang over. Chad wakes up without any underwear on. He won't remember any of his antics, such as pooping in his own pants, which, instead of being a red flag, becomes a joke.

How many earrings do the twins have in each ear? Forty.

Chris Harrison does a fake intervention while Chad asks for a glass of wine. Chris asks him if this is the time to be glib and Chad says, "I don't know what that word means, but you're right, it's probably not the time to be glib." Chris reminds Chad that he told everyone on the staff to go suck a dick. Chad doesn't remember. He has been asked to leave. He goes, but leaves behind a single flip flop and tells Chris to go drink his mimosas in his robe.

Until the next ceremony, Chaplin will accept this biscuit.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Will JoJo trust her gut or what the producers want?

Watching show with my favorite gal, Liz Webster.

Immediate plug for The Marriott in Thailand. JoJo is definitely falling in love with both of them. When she's with Jordan, she thinks of Robbie and when she's with Robbie, she thinks about the monkeys of Thailand. Her whole sweaty family has been flown to Thailand. Mom has had sixteen facial surgeries, including cheek and lip injections and possibly permanent eyeliner.

JoJo greets Jordan wearing an off the shoulder mini dress--Liz describes it as a pirate shirt that has been partially been ripped off and a purple bra. Her mom is wearing the same. Liz says she appreciates the Jordan is kind of a dandy. I missed the rest of the date because I was taking this photo and emailing it to myself. Jordan brought hats and promised not to break JoJo's precious princess heart.

Next is Robbie with his dipsy-do right hair style. He brings flowers. JoJo wears high-heeled wedges. Mom finds Robbie to have a gentleman demeanor. He shaves his chest. The brothers are skeptical at first, but then realize how cherished their sister feels and how he would be a good father. Mom also wears wedges and has possibly had her boobs done. No one mentions his hair. Robbie asks if dad will let JoJo be married to him and mom says yes, for $10,000 euros and a nose job. They shake on it. Why are we spending so much time with Robbie? This is a red herring.

Both Mom and Dad think Robbie is more husband material because he looks like a banker. JoJo is confused that Jordan didn't follow the arcane ritual of asking for JoJo's hand from the dad as if she were chattel. JoJo is confused about how hard this all is. Oh, wait, there is a sister in law or a sister sitting at the end of the sofa who hasn't said a word. Could she still be torn because she wants someone else or because she doesn't really want either one?

Cut to the live studio audience sitting there in silence as if they've just learned of the death of Princess Diana for the first time. All have been forced to curl their hair and wear solid colors.

I guess she gets one more fantasy date with the two men and several monkeys. Robbie is first. I hate his hair so much and want him to shave. What's his job? I mean, aside from "former competitive swimmer?" They go into the water and she drowns while they are playing chicken. They kiss underwater and we all know how romantic that is with water rushing up your nose. She asks him what he sees as their future. He says they will be sitting on a comfortable sofa from Bo Concept with a dog and meatloaf burning and tons of kids running around who don't want the meatloaf. Awwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He says he will impregnate her in three years or this evening. She then climbs on top of him and it's like they are almost having sex. Now they're talking about how much Robbie loves her. I do not know how to spell his name, okay?  She says he has a heart of gold and he says that he has a "heartburn of gold" which probably just cost him the entire relationship. I hope they get married in swim suits. Or die in a motorboat accident. They are looking nostalgically at photos of themselves together from two weeks ago. Remember when...Yeah, I remember, it just happened.

Okay, here's Jordan. I would say, Finally! But he's a super phony. He cares too much about his hair, but for some reason, I want her to pick him. They're on a pirate ship and Jordan goes, "Look at those ones over there!"

They then take a paddle boat out to a scenic cavern with plastic cups for wine waiting for them. He is coming across as a total phony. He admits he didn't ask her dad for her hand because...It wouldn't be right if he wasn't sure she would want that. Get it? She says that she doubts him, but he says he doesn't feel comfortable because her parents hadn't met Robby and...and...He wants JoJo to know that he doesn't know what she wants or what she would do or what he should say. I think what he's trying to say is that he doesn't know if she would say yes to a proposal and so he doesn't want to ask. This goes on for hours.
There is some kind of logical fallacy at play here--is it begging the question? Liz says that they are simultaneously second guessing each other while also saying that they have no doubts. I say it's a false equivocation--i.e., She is making the claim that Jordan's not asking her father for her hand means that he doesn't really want to marry her. 

The day has arrived. The day when the men are forced to pick out diamond rings from K Jewelers. Robbie/y can'd decide whether or not she will look best in a square cut or a princess cut or one where part of the ring falls off to one side so that her bra shows. Jordan does a hail mary pass by calling mom and dad to ask for JoJo's hand in marriage. He picks a ring in the shape of a football, of course.

Two fake letters are sent to JoJo supposedly written by the guys, but she doesn't feel right about either one.  She should make a choice based on penmanship. We are forced to admire their pecs and to wonder about the sizes of their respective penises. Both circumcised? Liz says, yes, especially the competitive swimmer because it will improve his time.

First out of the limo, some ankles in bad argyle socks and loafers. JoJo is dressed in a princess wedding dress and two pounds of foundation. Robby says, "My heart yearns for you, and it makes me weak in the knees, and you only hear about it in fairy tales and I promise I'll love you til the day I die---" Wait, she can't take it. She stops him so that she can snot on his J. Crew outlet jacket because she ill be sending him home. I hope now that Jordan doesn't actually propose.

Dan says that the set looks like Pier 1 Imports had a shipwreck. So many mass-produced Buddhas and tiki lamps.

And now, the one true football player. She is so ready for him. It took everything in him not to run down those stairs, he claims. He loves how she continues to challenge him to be his best self.

No guy talks like this, Emily, just so you know. It never happens outside of TV.

JoJo stops him to tell him how much she loves him, so much! He gets down on one knee despite the splinters. Both of them are shaking, because of how big a leap of faith/huge mistake this is.

Thanks to my texting buddies this season, Miz Kristine and Miz Emily. Stay tuned for BiP (Bachelor in Paradise, starting tomorrow night).  We'll be together again!!

Chappie and Liz say that no, we are not going to live blog After the Final Rose.  

Chap, will you accept this bowl of ice cream?