Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gina

Gina was a friend of my cousin Eli.

Picture George Burns in drag. That's Gina. She couldn't have been more than five feet tall. Gina was very sweet and I liked her a lot. She tried to look out for Eli, but that was a difficult task for everyone who attempted it.

Gina lived in an apartment in Over-the-Rhine, probably the worst neighborhood in Cincinnati.

At some point, Gina came into a lot of money. I don't remember if she hit the lottery or won some kind of settlement, but suddenly her apartment was filled with friends.

There was a young man living with Gina whom Eli often complained about. Eli said he was taking advantage of Gina, and threatening her physically. Eli said Gina wanted him out, but wouldn't tell him to leave, but it was always difficult to say whether Eli was telling the truth.

One day, Gina was found in her closet naked, hog-tied and beaten to death. She had been robbed and her roommate was nowhere to be found.

Eli was convinced that the cops didn't care because Gina was an old drag queen in Over-the-Rhine. There may be some truth to that, but you know, anyone who would have taken the time to talk to her would have liked her. She had lived a terrible life and her soul was damaged, but she gave love and kindness to the world in return. She didn't deserve to go out like that.

I miss Gina.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about Harry.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Strange Cast of Characters

I just got finished reviewing an article I wrote for Cincinnati CityBeat about my cousin who died of AIDS. It made me cry for him all over again. I miss him. He introduced me to a bizarre cast of characters, most of whom are dead now also. I miss them too.

Lisa was a friend of Eli's who rented a room from my dad for a while, so I got to know her pretty well. She was a big burly man with stringy blond hair and a big beer belly. She went to job interviews with thick makeup, tight blue jeans and rock n' roll T-shirts with the sleeves and collar ripped off. She was perpetually unemployed.

She had one telemarketing job for a while before I met her. She was convinced everyone there thought she was a woman. She got fired for using the women's restroom. A woman in the stall next to her was out of toilet paper and flipped out when Lisa's big hairy man-paw reached under the divide to hand her some tissue.

I was drawn to Lisa and we talked a lot, partly because I had few friends as a teenager and partly because she was a train wreck and I couldn't help but slow down as I passed.

She told me she was not a gay man, but a lesbian trapped in a man's body. I found this particularly puzzling since she had sex only with men.

She had no facial hair because she had electrolysis to permanently remove it, but she had a large masculine cleft chin, so she just looked remarkably clean shaven. She took hormones that gave her breasts, but they didn't protrude past her gut, so they just looked like man-boobs.

We were up late talking one night. Talking about how smart the dog was (Venus really was a remarkable dog). She said she thought Venus was a reincarnated person, and I laughed at her. The more she tried to convince me, the more I laughed. It was mean, and I feel really bad about it now.

Lisa died of AIDS a few years later. I spoke to her on the phone when I was in town not long before she died. She was sad that she never made it out of Cincinnati. She had always dreamed of Going to San Francisco. I miss Lisa.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about Gina.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Check and Double-Check

Okay,

Made links at the side of my blog.... check

Got fired from my job.... check

Filed for unemployment.... check

What now, Larry? I can't live on $300 a week!

How can a freelance writer make money fast? Now that I'm committed, any more advice?

(If this post isn't making sense, see the "Commitment Issues" post

Monday, January 22, 2007

To Spank or Not to Spank

California State Assembly member Sally Lieber is trying to pass a law that would make it illegal to spank a child under five and punishable by a $1000 fine and time in jail.

In a country that has the largest percentage of its population behind bars in the developed world, the state of California has the second largest percentage of its residents behind bars in the nation. The California prison system is so over crowded that we are currently in the process of exporting some of our prisoners to Arizona.

But let’s forget the logistical insanity of putting parents who spank their kids in prison and focus on the moral insanity of it.

First of all, we already have laws that prohibit parents from abusing their children, and if those current laws do not dissuade child abusers, this new law will not help either.

There is a big difference between abuse and a spanking.

I have twin boys, and they have always been very rambunctious and energetic. They are eight now, and almost never need a spanking, but they still require a lot of discipline. They are incredibly bright boys, both reading several levels above their grade-level, and they are very sweet and well-intentioned. We have always had to work very closely with their teachers in school because they have a tendency to be disruptive in class.

Now that they are older, we can have a discussion with them about why a certain behavior was wrong, and as a punishment, we usually make them write lines or essays (Connor, the more energetic of the two, has the best penmanship in his class).

For all the parents out there who have had little angels who required little or no discipline (my brother is one example), I hope you realize how lucky you are. For my situation, however, I would like to know why I should have been expected to endanger my toddler’s life by trying to explain to him (when he can barely clam down enough to make eye contact) why he should not stick his little fingers in the wall socket or dart out into traffic. I feel that, especially when it comes to safety issues, it would have been irresponsible of me as a parent to employ any less effective method of getting my point across, when a swift swat on the butt or hand and a firm “No!” will ensure that he will not play with the wall socket or dart towards the road again.

Of course, if I hit him hard enough to leave a mark, spank him for no good reason, or in any way cross the line from discipline to abuse, there are already laws which make that a crime.

My boys are happy, they do well in school, they have lots of friends, they come to us when they have problems, and we are constantly being told from teachers, coaches, choir instructors and random passers-by that our boys are an absolute delight (they get a lot of extra attention because they’re twins).

I, on the other hand, was not spanked, but my dad was an emotionally abusive alcoholic. I was often depressed, I did terrible in school, I rarely had friends, and held any problem I had deep down in my gut until it gave me an ulcer. Literally. Yet my dad continues to congratulate himself to this day on what a wonderful father he was, based largely on the fact that he was against spanking.

Go figure.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Against All Odds

My husband is the sweetest man on earth, maybe the universe.

I've been a bit down lately, and he called me at work yesterday to inform me that he had arranged for his brother to watch the kids and had made reservations at a restaurant we couldn't afford. I tried to protest, but it was just such a nice gesture.

We had a wonderful evening.

We've been married for about 9 years, and it was a rough ride for a long time. There were times that I didn't think we would make it, and I wasn't even sure I wanted to.

I was nineteen, and had known him for only a few months when I became pregnant with triplets. Our youth, our tumultuous childhoods, our poverty, and losing a child (Conrad) all make it statistically improbable that we are still married-- and happy.

It wasn't easy to get to where we are now, but I'm so glad we're here.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Commitment Issues

I have magazine article ideas that I know I could sell, if I just sent out a few query letters.

I’ve written a children’s book, and researched a few alternative publishers who I think would like it. I just need to contact them.

I’ve been on chapter 3 of my novel for round about a year. I knew I’d have time to finish it once I graduated… as soon as I found a job… after we got settled in to our new apartment…

Part of the problem is that I have too many projects; too many ideas swarming through my head. Part of it is that I have so many responsibilities; cook breakfast, go to work, pick the kids up, run some errands, PTA, children’s choir practice, cook dinner, make sure the homework is done, shuffle them off to bed, balance the checkbook (badly), quality time with hubby, and 5 hours of sleep before I do it all over again, and now 6 months have flown by, and I’ve only published 2 articles.

If anyone out there has any ideas about how I can better commit myself to writing, I’m all ears.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Deep Thoughts

Man, I am drained of deep thoughts lately.

I had an interesting conversation with my 8-yr-old son the other day, though.

He was trying to figure out how we can KNOW good from bad, and he said, “What if nature is turned the other way around and good is really bad, and bad is really good?”

So we had a nice Platonic dialogue about what constitutes goodness and what constitutes badness and came up with the usual answers.

But he couldn’t leave well enough alone, and kept going back to “what if everything is backwards?”

I told him that all we can do is look at the evidence around us, and if there is no evidence that everything is backwards, we have to assume it’s not. Then I told him about Kant, and his head was spinning!

It was really cool to watch the little gears turn in his head, and I’m looking forward to many more discussions like this as he grows. There’s no RULE that teenagers have to be distant from their parents, is there? I love talking to my boys, I don’t want to miss out on these conversations when they start really reading and thinking for themselves. Though the only way they could really rebel would be to become religious or something. Maybe they’ll experiment with Buddhism, that would be cool.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Capitalism

Not only am I pro-capitalism, but my husband and I own a company called WebDoggs (more on that later).

What I take issue with is corporations who buy laws to benefit themselves and screw the average person.

Everyone should have a fair shake at a decent life. Sure, some are smarter and some are stronger, but most of us agree that it’s wrong to take advantage of, or in any way injure, those who are dumber or weaker, and we make laws for the purpose of leveling the playing field.

In nature, the doctrine of “survival of the fittest” reigns supreme; the strong live and the weak die. But human society has evolved beyond the simple need to eat and reproduce, which redefines what it means to be “fit.”

An elderly person, frail and infirm, who has surpassed their usefulness in a hunting and gathering society, still has a lot to contribute in ours.

Wisdom, love, companionship, and sentimental value have little meaning in nature, but are vital to the survival of complex societies, and to each person’s quality of life, which is why we strive to preserve these values when they come into conflict with the doctrine of “survival of the fittest.”

When corporations lobby to reverse the regulations that prevent them from destroying the lives of individuals in their pursuit of strengthening themselves, they like to argue the “survival of the fittest” doctrine and say that it is in the best interest of society that they are allowed to destroy those who oppose them, when it is really only in their own best interest.

Wisdom, love, companionship, and sentimental value are in the best interest of society and the best interest of each individual. People live longer, healthier, and happier lives when they are not in a constant state of fighting to survive.

Viva la evoluciĆ³n