Saturday, May 28, 2005
After adding a new entry to my NC17 blog a few days ago, I checked comments on a few previous entries. I found one rather interesting and amusing comment.
This one individual had started reading this blog and had apparently found her way over to the other blog. After reading several posts over there, she left a comment telling me that after reading, she’d decided that I was not merely an “honest, unapologetic libertine”, but rather, that I was a “predator”.
Far from being insulted, as I'm sure was her intention, I was rather turned on by it, imagining myself a mountain lion stalking through the hills seeking a new mate.
When I mentioned this comment to another blogger in an email, he said, “Though I'm sure she pictured you stalking some hapless gazelle for the kill instead. But since you're upfront and honest about what you are and aren't looking for, your metaphor of a mate is more accurate. Seek, "mate" (thankfully, we have contraceptives!), move on. I suppose you get that sort of knee-jerk reaction a fair bit, though, eh?"
Yes, I’m well used to knee-jerk reactions by now. Many people don’t quite know how to react to me, as my lifestyle blatantly violates some of society’s most sacred of cows. But on a fairly regular basis, I encounter those who are at first shocked by me, though they’re also fascinated at the same time. And a good bit of the time, this fascination overrides the initial shock.
When I first read the comment on the other blog, I was planning to leave it there, and simply ignore it. Later, however, I went back and responded:
“Thank you -- I'll take that as a *compliment*. Usually, I get called a *bastard*…”
I couldn’t resist, hehehehehe.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Though my father was raised in a southern Baptist family, by the time I knew him he was largely non-religious. Not anti-religious, but basically indifferent to it. During my childhood, he rarely attended church.
This changed when he married for the second time. His new wife was an active churchgoing Baptist, so he attended with her for the duration of their married life. However, I always understood him doing this mainly as a way to please her; it wasn’t something he would have done on his own.
Indeed, I can remember him telling me about the unctuous, self-righteous preacher at their church many times. “I always feel like breaking into a chorus of ‘How Great Thou Art’ every time I see that man,” my father told me on several occasions.
So, after he died, I wasn’t thrilled when his widow chose this same preacher to deliver my father’s eulogy. But as I was surrounded by my fundamentalist relatives and because I didn’t want to make a scene that would detract from the dignity of my father’s funeral service, I decided to grit my teeth and bear it.
I was calm during the service, until the preacher mentioned how my father had “finally accepted Christ” and how glad he was that my father would not be going to hell, after all.
I saw red and it took every bit of my self control not to jump up and tell the preacher off. My father was a good man who cared about others and always helped those less fortunate. Those who have been reading my blog for any length of time know this.
Surely, if there is a heaven, my father was always destined to go there, and not because of a particular set of words mumbled late in life, mainly to please his wife.
But as I nearly lost it at that point in the funeral, I suddenly heard my father’s voice in my head singing, “How Great Thou Art”. I nearly laughed out loud, knowing that this was my father’s parting private joke he’d just shared with me.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Today, I thought I’d do something different. We all have songs we love to hate, songs that make us nearly rip the dial off the radio in our haste to change the station.
“Raindrops Keep Falling on Head” by BJ Thomas and “Sunshine on My Shoulders” by John Denver were two songs I especially hated as a kid because they were sappy and gooey. Most of what John Denver did was pretty sappy, but this one had to be the worst.
When I first began college in the fall of 1976, radio stations were constantly playing Elton John’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. I normally like Elton John’s music, but for some reason, this song just rubbed me the wrong way, and I’d change the station every time it came on. Oddly enough, I kind of like this song now, but that’s probably because it reminds me of a particularly happy time in my life.
Of course, there were songs I hated then that I hate just as much now. A prime example would be Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You”, in which she makes a sound like a wounded animal with its leg caught in a trap in the middle of the song. That noise goes through my head like a nail.
Another song I’ve always despised is Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville”, mainly because of the inane lyrics.
“Stepped on a pop tart, blew out my flip flop”
How more moronic can you get?
“Shout” by the Isley Brothers (I think) makes me want to tear my hair out. For one thing, it’s too long and boring. When I hear it, I change the lyrics in my head to:
“You make me want to BARF, throw my guts up and BARF, kick the bucket and BARF….”
In the 90s, when I was still on the police force, “Achy, Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus was quite popular, which I instantly hated. For one thing, it was country, which I don’t like for the most part. And it was sappy. And the combination of country and sappy only made it ten times worse.
More recently, I’ve been listening to the radio more as I make my pizza deliveries. One song (why is it that the godawful songs get the most airtime?) that comes on a lot is REO Speedwagon’s “Take It On the Run”. The beginning lyrics make me want to tear the radio out of the dashboard and throw it out the window:
“I heard it from a friend whooooo
Heard it from a friend whooooo
Heard it from another you been messin’ around”
My sap runneth over.
Let’s hear some of the songs you love to hate.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
In recent years, with the increasing prevalence of personal computer use, handwritten letters are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Is this a good thing? I would say it’s a mixed blessing.
My parents, after their brief initial meeting, conducted their courtship through the mail, each writing daily letters to the other. They had the pleasant feelings of anticipation each day as they checked the mail, they could see the other’s handwriting, which made the mail that much more personal. Best of all, the letters could be read anywhere, and they could be saved, to be read over again any time they chose. Indeed, a few of my parents’ wartime letters survive to this day.
I took to letter writing at a young age, when we moved to another state in the late sixties. I didn’t want to lose touch with my friends, but frequent long distance phone calls were too expensive, thus out of the question. At my parents’ suggestion, I began writing letters, at a time when a stamp cost only five cents.
Over the years, I’ve corresponded with quite a few people: friends, relatives, and lovers. And I must admit, I still feel satisfaction every time I see personal mail when I go to the mailbox, most recently being birthday cards from Infamous J.
But I have to admit that I no longer write regular letters to anyone. And I think that’s a shame.
But don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against email. It’s a wonderful tool, which I’m grateful to have. I remember when I first thought of getting a computer, I was eagerly looking forward to the novelty of being able to send instantaneous letters.
However, like anything else in this world, email is both a boon and a bane. The swiftness of email is probably its biggest selling point. On the negative side, spam clogs our inboxes, just as junk mail does in our snail mail boxes. And all of us know “email junkies”, people who incessantly forward cute, sappy stories, jokes, chain letters and the like. Stuff like that immediately goes in my “trash” folder, unread.
And now, even email isn’t quick enough. I find myself, more often that not, chatting with people on Instant Messenger, both AOL and Yahoo, and emailing less. There’s just something about real time communication that can’t be beat. But I supplement that with emails for pictures, stuff that takes more than a couple of sentences to say, and the like.
But I still miss the pleasure of getting a handwritten letter in the mail.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
He was born right on his due date, which I'd not expected. The apartment complex the ex and I were living at had three pregnant women in our building. The woman downstairs had had three "false alarms", and I'd fully expected that we'd be going through the same scenario.
However, he decided to make a punctual arrival. The morning before his due date, his mother started into labor. I remember being woken up by the sound of her moaning in the bathroom. When I got up to see what was the matter, I found her in the tub. She said she thought she might be in labor but wasn't sure.
I went to call the doctor and when I described what was going on, they said to monitor it for a few hours and to call back if the pains intensified in duration and frequency. We called again around one, and they told us to come on to the hospital at that time. She'd already had a bag packed and waiting, so we jumped into the car and took off.
There was road construction along the route to the hospital and we got mired into a traffic jam, the cause of which I never found out. She was panicking with each pain, bouncing up and down in the seat each time one hit. I was nearly frantic, looking for somewhere to pull off to find an alternate route. A police car came zipping up the median, and I tried to get his attention, to no avail.
If we'd known then how long the labor was going to be, we'd not have been so agitated, but at that point, we thought the baby would be coming any second.
Finally, we got to the hospital, where a nurse in the labor and delivery area told her to walk the halls for awhile. We did so, even though she had to grab the wall from time to time as a pain hit. We eventually ended up in the waiting room, where she threw up into a trash can.
That was it. Enough walking. I took her back to the nurses' station, where they finally admitted her to a labor room. Once she was in bed, I sat with her after she'd been hooked up to several different types of monitors. I talked to her, trying to distract her during the pains, which she could see coming on one of the monitors, as the readings would spike every time one came along. She was in a good bit of pain, moaning and shaking the bed with each new wave.
The nurses didn't have a very good bedside manner. One told her to shut up, because "labor didn't hurt" if you breathed properly. I asked the nurse how many children she had. After she told me none, I told HER to shut the fuck up.
I'd called my Dad after we'd gotten her admitted, and he turned up late that afternoon. I left to get him and I some supper as soon as he arrived and let him sit with her for awhile. After I returned, he and I ate, and all three of us sat there for a good part of the evening. Once it became clear that the baby would not likely be born that evening, my father left, promising to come back in the morning.
It was a long night, to say the least. Finally, after more than 18 hours of hard labor, the doctor decided to do a C-section. They got her prepped, then rolled her into the delivery room.
I returned to the father's waiting room, where they had an intercom. About a half hour later, I heard her voice on the intercom telling me that it was a boy, 22 inches long and nine pounds. I went around to where the nurse had him bundled up for me to see. I was amazed at his full head of dark hair and as I looked at him, I knew I couldn't deny that one.
She slept most of that day, so I went home to crash, as I was worn out. Mother and baby stayed in the hospital for five days, as was then standard for a caesarian birth.
My father wanted to do the honors of driving his grandson home in his big Caddy, so he picked me up that morning with the new car seat I'd bought. Once we got to the room, my father took over, scooping the baby up and carrying him down the elevator as she and I followed behind.
Little did I know, that less than a year later, I'd be raising this baby alone.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Imagine that you have died and a civil committee has been appointed to select some souvenirs from your life, things you used, wore, possessed, received. What will be found in the display from some of the key points in your life?
Ok, here goes.
A box of Legos
A clam shell from Newport, RI
My high school jacket with the varsity letter for band
A photo of my parents
My Afghan hound's leash
A pair of black engineer boots
A Philly cheesesteak hoagie from South Jersey
A pair of Lee jeans
An unabridged dictionary
The acceptance letter for Berklee College of Music
A box of condoms
A rubber band for my hair
My son's first pair of cowboy boots
My badge from the PD
A black leather jacket
The deed to my house
The keys to my car
Pictures of my cats
My handwritten journals
A CD of my blog archives
I probably could think of more, but this is what I came up with off the top of my head.
Monday, May 9, 2005
Believe it or not, even now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, there are seven states that still have anti-cohabitation laws on the books.
One of these states is North Carolina, which has had a law banning unmarried couples from living together since 1805. As in the other seven states, this law is rarely enforced.
Former Pender County Sheriff's Dispatcher, Deborah Hobbs, with the assistance of the ACLU, has filed suit to have the 200 year old law declared unconstitutional. "Certainly the government has no business regulating relationships between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes," said Jennifer Rudinger, state executive director of the ACLU.
Hobbs resigned from her job, after Sheriff Carson Smith told her she either had to marry her live-in lover, move out, or find another job. Sheriff Smith asserted that this was a moral issue as well as a legal one, saying that he avoids hiring unmarried people with live-in lovers.
Arnold Loewy, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the ACLU lawsuit is almost certain to succeed. If the high court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas protects consensual sex among adults, "it's hard to understand any serious argument that it would not include" the right to live together, he said.
Virginia has already responded to the Lawrence case by striking down a law that banned sex between unmarried people, though, oddly enough, the anti-cohabitation law remains. Apparently, you can fuck whomever you wish, you just can't do it at home!
There were approximately three dozen cohabitation-related charges filed in North Carolina between 1997 and 2004, according to state figures. At least one judge, U.S. Magistrate Carl Horn in Charlotte, regularly asks defendants whether their living arrangements violate the cohabitation ban. Horn routinely refuses to release violators unless they promise to comply.
Interestingly enough, the most sensible thing about this issue that I've heard so far came from a Baptist minister. Rev. Jack McKinney of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh said, "I think the state's got better things to do than try to dictate people's private lives to that degree."
Thursday, May 5, 2005
In recent years, two horrific examples of mothers murdering their children have been widely covered in the media, those being the cases of Susan Smith and Andrea Yates.
For those who don’t remember, Susan Smith killed her two young sons in 1994 by rolling her car into a lake with the boys strapped in car seats. Andrea Yates drowned her five children in 2001.
What links these two women is that both had a history of mental illness and both had connections with Christian fundamentalism.
Susan Smith’s father committed suicide when she was a small child, shortly after divorcing Susan’s mother. Her mother then married Beverly Russell, who, at the time of the crime, was a local Republican party official also active in the Christian Coalition. Susan was raised in a religiously conservative home. But from the time she was fifteen, her stepfather had been sexually abusing her, which no doubt contributed to her mental illness. As a teenager, she attempted to commit suicide twice.
Amazingly enough, a few years ago New Gingrich blamed Democrats for this crime in response to an Associated Press reporter who asked him how that year’s campaign was going:
“I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things." Gingrich said, "The only way you get change is to vote Republican. That's the message for the last three days." Two days later, less than 24 hours before the polls opened, Gingrich defended his comments on the Smith case as no different than what he'd been saying for years -- that violence and related ills arise from a Democratic-controlled political system: "We need very deep change if we're going to turn this country around." Asked if the change he was offering the country would stop killings like those in South Carolina, he replied, "Yes. In my judgment, there's no question."
Boggles the mind.
Andrea Yates and her husband, Rusty, were both extreme religious fundamentalists. At their wedding, they told guests they intended to have as many children as nature allowed them. Five children were born to them in eight years of marriage. Despite his large family, Rusty decided the family would live in a converted bus and that Andrea would home school them. Andrea did not protest, as the Yates both believed that a wife should be totally submissive to her husband, having no more say in the marriage than the children would.
Like Susan Smith, Andrea Yates attempted suicide more than once and was hospitalized for psychotic depression. When she had four children, her psychiatrist strongly recommended that she not have any more, as the stresses of raising so many children would likely bring on more psychotic episodes.
After her release, Rusty Yates moved the family into a house, but the couple disregarded the doctor’s advice not to have more children, no doubt because they felt that birth control was contrary to God’s plan, regardless of circumstances. And so, Andrea had another baby.
Several months later, she drowned all five in the bathtub.
While I believe that both women were properly held responsible for their actions, I can’t help but think that both instances were a matter of closing the barn door after the horse had gotten out. Both women had mental illnesses that were inadequately treated and both had circumstances in their lives that exacerbated their mental problems. No one is perfectly sane their entire lives, then wakes up one morning and suddenly decides to go postal. There are always warning signs of impending breakdown, as was true in the cases of these two women.
I think of these tragedies as failures of the mental health system as much as I see them as personal failures of the women involved.
Monday, May 2, 2005
Ok, I'm probably going to get hammered on this one, but here goes.
As I was browsing the news outlets on the net the other day, I came upon a story about Mary Kay Letourneau's upcoming wedding to Vili Fualaau later this spring. For those who might not recognize these names, Letourneau was the elementary school teacher convicted of statutory rape for instigating a sexual relationship with Fualaau when he was a 12 year old student in her class.
While serving in the criminal justice system, she bore Fualaau two daughters, the second conceived in a parked car shortly after being released from prison for good behavior, which broke the terms of her probation. She was sent back to prison where she served out the rest of a seven and a half year sentence.
When she was released after completing her sentence this past August, the judicial ban on her having any contact with Fualaau was still in effect. Fualaau, now 22, petitioned to have this ban rescinded, as he was now a grown man no longer needing the protection that would be necessary for a child. The petition was granted and he and Letourneau immediately resumed their relationship where it left off. Not too long after that, they were engaged and they plan to be married later this month.
I wish them the best of luck, because they're going to need it and it can only benefit their innocent daughters if things go well for them.
That being said, how their relationship began still remains a jaw-dropping thing, something utterly unimaginable and inconceivable. Be that as it may, she has served her time and has paid her debt to society. And this relationship has survived the test of time and many adversities. I think they should be left alone to start the life they've chosen together.
I have followed this case with interest over the years. This is because my first lover, when I was fifteen, was a woman twenty years my senior. This affair lasted an entire summer, when I was taught everything about sex from A to Z. I do not believe that I was harmed by this experience and I don't regret any of it for a moment. No doubt my own experience has affected and colored how I feel about this case to some extent, though it differs from this case on several key points.