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Archive for March, 2008

The Gospel of St. Thomas

This is the meadow by my house
I can’t pass by and not think of you

Nothing happened there to remind me of you
Of any of you
Your home wasn’t nearby
We never sat there together, brushing mosquitoes away in the summer
We never had dinner at the cafe across the street
We never drove the ribbon of road past its tall grasses
But it always takes me back to you

You are always with me

You exist as part of me, inextricable
No matter how far away I run, who I turn to
Where I go or what I do
How many stones I turn

You are always with me

The Gospel of St. Thomas, author unknown

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Oh Dear God

I started reading the Harry Potter books when I was in college.  It was only slightly mortifying at the time to be caught with what were seen — at the time — as children’s books.  But I noticed that other people were also reading them on the sly, and that this whole “Harry Potter thing” really seemed to be catching fire, so my embarassment was mostly tempered by these occurrences.

By the time the last Harry Potter book came out, I was on a downhill slide — not the big fan I once was — from when the books really hit their stride with The Goblet of Fire and The Order of the PhoenixHalf-Blood Prince had been a mild disappointment for me and I was really only anticipating the last book because I felt that I needed closure for characters in which I’d been invested for almost seven years.

So, it was with a deep sense of irony and self-effacing humor that my friends and I went down to the West Alabama Bookstop (& Theatre!) for the midnight release party of The Deathly Hallows.  Even the release party itself was deflated and tired and smaller than the riotous release party had been for Half-Blood Prince.  Clearly, I was not the only one hanging on by a thread, ready to end this marathon.

After reading The Deathly Hallows, I managed to come away even more disappointed.  And not just with the book, but with the way that the entire series ended.  And also a little disappointed in myself for getting so interested in what eventually turned out to be mostly sound and fury.

But what struck me this morning as I perused the gossip websites was the news that the final book will be released as two movies — and will be released when I am 31 years old.

I am not comfortable contemplating the idea that I will eventually turn 30 years old, much less 31.  That’s one step closer to 40 and then 50 and then 60 and then diapers, bedpans and death.  Say what you will.  Mock me.  But I’m not ready to get any older than I already am, especially since I’ve accomplished about three out of one hundred things that I had hoped to accomplish at this point in my life.

Also…there’s the nagging feeling that perhaps 31 is too old to see a Harry Potter movie without the benefit of Netflix.  Someone please tell me that I’m wrong and being foolish.  And that it’s normal for a 27 year old to be having an overly-early-midlife, Harry Potter-induced crisis.

I always knew that Harry Potter would turn out to be evil in some way…

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Boredom

Not having Richard around for a week has driven me to do odd things out of boredom.  Like eating an entire tub of hummus.  And then, later, an entire wedge of blue cheese.  And the night before, I remodeled our master bathroom.  …at least one of these activities was productive.

The master bathroom has been sitting in a desperate state of disrepair since we bought our home last May.  It’s the one room that we haven’t done a damn thing to, and on Tuesday evening, I finally found myself unable to look at it anymore.

I pulled on some pants (yes, I wander around the house pantsless — don’t you? — I highly recommend it) and headed out to the local home improvement store.  Returning home an hour later, and down $100, I set to work.  By 1:00 a.m. the next morning, the bathroom was a masterpiece.

I painted.  I edged.  I patched drywall.  I drilled things.  I grouted.  I undrilled things.  I did minor electrical work.  I cleaned.  I organized.  I built a shelving unit and bolted it to the wall.  And no one was there to take the drill or the tools away from me and tell me that I was going to “hurt” myself.  It was spectacular.

The only thing left to do now is replace the toilet and the tub (both are leaky and require professional work, unfortunately) and tile the floor.  Well, and take pictures.  But I think that despite the continued presence of Drippy McToilet and the Rusty Tub From Hell, Richard will be quite surprised and pleased when he comes home tomorrow night.

Now all I need is something productive to do tonight

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I don’t like credit cards.  I don’t like the entire notion of the credit system here in America.  It’s too easily disrupted, skewed, abused and heavily-relied upon in general.  It’s a huge scam that we’ve all bought into, but…it’s also not going anywhere any time soon.

The one small, tiny thing that I do to combat the credit system is that I don’t have a credit card.  Not a single one.  Sure, I have a car loan.  We have a home loan.  There are a million other unstickable ways in which I am entrenched in the credit system, but having a credit card is not one of them.

I’m of the mind that I shouldn’t be buying things unless I have the cash in my pocket to do it.  With the dual exceptions of the car and the house, I don’t see the sense in buying things on credit and paying interest to someone else when that money could be in your own accounts, earning you interest until the day comes along when you can finally afford to buy that couch or those shoes or that TV.  But what if there’s an emergency? you ask.  Well, that’s what all that money that should be in your savings accounts, accruing interest, should be used for, since you aren’t spending it on paying credit card bills each month.

My husband, however, is a dutiful consumer and does in fact have several credit cards.  He’s extremely frugal with them and does clever little things like buy a tank of gas and some groceries with one card and pay it off the next month.  To build credit, he says.  And he does have a spotless credit record to show for it, whereas I — the stubborn asshole that I am — don’t.  I have a mediocre credit report with remarks on it like, “No credit history” and “Insufficient credit history,” as if refusing to buy into the system immediately gets you blacklisted.

Back to my husband…  Wanting to maintain his system of buying a few things with one of the cards and then paying it off, he gave me his credit card this weekend to buy some things for our upcoming trip abroad.  I set off to several stores, in the market for some winter boots and a couple of warm sweaters.  And this is where my disgust for credit cards comes into play.

I went to six different stores on Sunday — a shoe store, jewelry store, clothing store, grocery store, drug store, and a coffee shop — and every single one of them blindly accepted Richard’s credit card without thought.  Three of the stores asked to see my ID, which I provided, and pretended to compare the ID and the credit card.  None of the stores seemed to bat an eyelash at the fact that I was not, in fact, my husband.

My husband and I don’t share the same last name, much less the same first name.  My driver’s license has my full name on it, not his.  And I’m clearly not a “Richard.”  Yet every single store let me use his credit card without a second glance.

I watched each merchant, more amused each time, just waiting for someone to point out that my ID and the credit card I was presenting didn’t remotely match one another.  But it never happened…  And right there is why I hate credit cards.

Why put your entire life and well-being into a network which has no safeguards in place to ensure that someone else can’t come along and use the credit which you have so carefully constructed and maintained?  Identity theft is a rampant problem in today’s society, yet the credit system has made little to no adjustment to compensate for that threat.  It’s like knowing that criminals carry guns, yet refusing to protect your law enforcement officers with Kevlar.

Sure, the credit card companies have a few of their own safeguards in place, like monitoring your card to make sure that no “unusual” purchases or transactions are made.  Same thing with your bank.  But what about the credit bureaus themselves?  The Experians and TransUnions and Equifaxes?  Have you ever tried to get a bogus or erroneous record removed from your credit report?  Tried to get your credit cleaned up after an identity theft?  Good luck.

I don’t have a single answer as to what better system could replace our current credit boondoggle.  In fact, with my hyper-Libertarian attitude, I’m probably a really poor person to ask in the first place.  All I know is that in my ideal country, in addition to not having any executive branch departmental agencies (i.e., Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, the IRS) and only a few independent federal agencies (you can stick around, U.S. Postal Service), there would be a complete abolition of all credit bureaus, too.

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Vex me, O Night, your stars stuttering like a stuck jukebox,
put a spell on me, my bones atremble at your tabernacle

of rhythm and blues. Call out your archers, chain me
to a wall, let the stone fortress of my body fall

like a rabid fox before an army of dogs. Rebuke me,
rip out my larynx like a lazy snake and feed it to the voiceless

throng. For I am midnight’s girl, scouring unlit streets
like Persephone stalking her swarthy lord. Anoint me

with oil, make me greasy as a fast-food fry. Deliver me
like a pizza to the snapping crack-house hours between

one and four. Build me an ark, fill it with prairie moths,
split-winged fritillaries, blue-bottle flies. Stitch

me a gown of taffeta and quinine, starlight and nightsoil,
and when the clock tocks two, I’ll be the belle of the malaria ball.

“Vex Me” — Barbara Hamby

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Cor Blimey, Mate!

The only good thing about watching 1990s-era reruns of EastEnders on PBS is that when there’s a cliffhanger episode, you don’t have to wait until the next night to find out what happens.  You can just Wikipedia it.

I can’t believe Janine pushed Barry off a cliff after Barry left Natalie for Janine and married her, even though Janine was a prostitute who was blackmailing Ian to the tune of 200 quid a week after Ian slept with Janine and tried to hide it from Laura, whom Janine also killed in a suspicious staircase incident!

See?  Just like Dynasty, except trashier and with more chip shops.

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