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On Hitchhiking to the End of the World

OMG this is so wonderful. Thank you. This does not compare to Argentina, but when I was traveling Ireland alone a few years ago, I got on a late night bus from one small town to I-didn't-care-where, which then got diverted due to a massive flood, and I ended up in some other unknown town at 11:55 at night. The bus station cleared out, everyone disappeared, and I was alone at night in some rural Irish village where there were no hostels and I had nowhere to go. It was still raining cats and dogs.

Lacking any clear plan, I went to the only lit window in the compound and found the station master closing up for the night. He said if I'd waited 5 more minutes he'd have been gone. I told him what happened and he nodded and told me he'd take me some place. I told him I had hardly any money, that I'd budgeted for hostels and not hotels. He was paternalistically secretive about where we were going (not the only Irish man I met with that personality on that trip, although maybe they're just taciturn) so I was on guard. But it turned out brilliantly when he took me to a tiny family-owned hotel and knocked on the door for ten minutes until the owner woke up and took me in. They conversed so quickly I couldn’t understand what they were saying, even though it was nominally the English language.

The taciturn station master disappeared after admonishing me not to get on busses during storms and end up god knows where. The hotel owner was the kindest lady. I had a huge, soft bed, en suite, with a plush red carpet on the floor. I think I took two hot showers just because I could. Then ate a humongous Full English Breakfast the next morning, read all the framed Yates poems she had hung in the hallway, put on my pack and left again.

Thank you for reminding me of that time period. Ireland is not Argentina, or Thailand where I’ve known other girlfriends to travel alone. But my family fought and yelled for me not to travel alone. Thank God I didn't listen.

Keep up the travels! And may trail magic always find you.

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 1:51 pm 0

On Mad Men: “I Know How I Want You to See Me”

Oh god, you guys. I'm probably way late to this discovery. But did you know about the Mad Men college course, taught by our own AHP? They read primary texts from the time period, along with contemporary analysis of the show, and THE COMPLETE SYLLABUS IS ONLINE. I'll be checking a lot of books out of the library now. Fangirlgasm.

Article:
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2014/04/mad_men_college_class_professor_teaches_an_entire_course_only_about_the.2.html

Syllabus:
http://whitmanmadmen.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/mad-men-syllabus-f13.pdf

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 12:13 am 0

On "Let Me Tell You What I Think of Bicycling": Nellie Bly Interviews Susan B. Anthony, 1896

“She’ll be free,” said Miss Anthony. “Then she’ll be whatever her best judgment wants to be."

Thank you for making me weepy on a Monday! (I think)!

Posted on April 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm 0

On Logan Echolls Syndrome, Cohabitation Power Politics, and The Girlfriend Label

Ummmm, LW1. This is a thing, what you're going through over and over. I've seen this thing. I've been in this thing. I've had close friends be in this thing, and seen them overcome it.

It's called something like, "I will recycle my childhood dramas now in an attempt to resolve what was fundamentally confusing and painful as a child."

In other words, your dad, mom, older sibling, uncle, grandma, grandpa, or someone important was a borderline personality, or an alcoholic, or at minimum, controlling in a crazy way. So now, the only people who get your rocks off are crazyhats. Because your intimacy meter is keyed to crazy.

I say this with great love and compassion, and no judgment of you or your family, because I've got this too.

One of my friends puts it like this, "You walk into that room, the cocktail party or the BBQ or whatever, and you spot them, the one person in the whole place with something about them, the only one in the building you want to talk to, the one person you're sure you could have a conversation with in the whole damn place. They make your bells go 'ding-ding-ding.' Well, honey, they make your bells go ding-ding-ding because they’re giving all the signs of carrying around that drama you subconsciously need to work on, because your subconscious knows they will recycle into your live the drama you unknowingly crave, because they are *familiar* in the crazy way.”

And the work you have to do this: the person who makes your bells go ‘ding-ding-ding’ and makes all the lights and buzzers go off, you don’t engage with them. You take the tingle of interest and the excitement as a warning, and not as a good sign.

Instead, you consciously and meaningfully craft an idea of what is acceptable to you in a partner. Like A Queer Chick says, and you don’t accept anything else. You force yourself to talk to and engage with the people who seem soooo boring, and unfamiliar, and dumb, and lame, and not all that interesting. You engage them and learn what’s really going on inside those people, because there is a lot. And you get to a therapist and work on whatever cray-cray family dynamic makes psychos light your fire.

Like Mary Ellen said, you keep finding yourself in this situation because you are the common denominator. I know that’s harsh, but it’s actually good news, because it means the resolution is also within your power. One day, you’ll look at the psycho, lying, thieving, identity-shifting exes as having been your friends. Because they were pointing huge red flashing arrows at the path to self-awareness.

I say this as someone who stopped picking the addled recovering meth addicts, the jobless controlling romantic abusers, and the weirdly needy emotionally unavailable alcoholics. It took a lot of work, and extreme efforts at self-awareness and looking at my family and my life, and forgiving my family and myself, but I’m now with someone stable, loving, kind-hearted, and sincere, with a strong sense of self, who fights fair, and whom I have no doubt in my mind or in my heart loves me as I deserve.

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 6:57 pm 3

On Ask a Psychic

@swiftsmith and @discombobulated - Yes. But she didn't say only things 100% of people could relate to. I dropped that tidbit in to be...relatable! She said 50 - 75 other things that were highly specific which I choose not to share. And I really don't need to defend the conversation. I just find the anti-other-ways-of-knowing vitriol on here kind of fascinating. I guess others haven't actually run into a legitimate one. But even so, why all the hating? Again, once every 4 or 5 years over the course of 20 years cannot be outside the range of average. I don't credit psychics with being able to know who shot JFK or whatever, but at specific phases of my specific life, the information has been helpful. Including the information I gained from the one that was full of crap, which was to pay attention who I paid money to for what. I could tell the difference. Does anyone here need to believe me about that? No. Do I? I know who I am.

My fascination with the vitriol may be because other ways of knowing run in my family. Is anyone in my family a street corner psychic? No. Do my grandmother and mother and sometimes I know things we're not 'supposed' to know? Yes. Does that look like this woman's interview? Not a bit. It's a very different experience. But it's not some cute family delusion either. It's relatively harmless, only touches on the lives of people we know and love, and comes infrequently, only when terribly important or imminent, and usually shows up as a feeling of discomfort that isn't coming from anything in our immediate lives. It's not about deaths or car wrecks or lottery wins, it's much more subtle than that. And it's equally not about controlling children's behavior or knowing when they brushed their teeth. Does anyone here need to believe me? No. I don't know or love anyone here and it doesn't affect your lives.

God knows, or Science knows, there is much more to the universe than our limited animal-based perceptions allow. So maybe my fascination with the finger pointing and elbow jabbing yuk yuks has some personal interest. But it's also intellectual fascination with the human response to things we don't understand, can't grasp with our limited explanations, and which therefore unsettle us. The comments on this story, whether The Hairpin meant it as some kind of joke story or not, is a case study in human response to what unsettles us. Including my comments. It's all fascinating.

Posted on February 27, 2014 at 8:17 am 3

On The Wall: Lessons From a Family Lawyer

@hairpin2 - Wow. Really? This excerpt is extremely well written, honest, vulnerable, and even hilarious. Of course she was joking about how Darlene ruined her weekend. She put that in there to contrast her life of security and stability with Darlene's life of instability and drama. Darlene's choices 'ruined' the author's privileged weekend, but will affect Darlene and Darlene's child for the rest of their lives. Yes, that was satire. The author was satirizing herself. Which is the best kind of satire.

Let's listen to Punkinpie who has worked at an attorney in legal aid. Being an attorney is brutal. Lawyers are essentially customer service representatives for the law. Like calling AT&T to yell at them about our phone bills, no one wants to talk to customer service unless they have a problem, and then we want customer service to fix it instantly, on our timeline, without having to call in additional help, and we also expect to be able to yell at them or be disgusted with them as they try to meet our needs, and then bitch about them on the side when the issue is finally resolved.

The law is an arcane, complex, byzantine historical bureaucracy to all of us, even to attorneys sometimes. We require guides to take us through the process, but then we reserve the right to despise them and hate on them, and frequently not work with them when they're telling us what we need to do for the good of our case. I'm sure lawyers frequently feel like doctors too - you can tell a patient to stop smoking, lose weight, and eat better, and when they die at 58, diabetic with a heart attack, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. It's a bizarre relationship our society has with law, lawyers, and ourselves. We want instant results, in the midst of crises, often with little or no insight into how we came to be in those crises. Thank god for lawyers, and especially for those who work in legal aid services.

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 10:19 am 1

On Ask a Psychic

Wow you guys. Methinks thou dost protest too much. Has no one seriously gone to a psychic or reader? I'm not hippy dippy but I've talked to maybe 4 in the past 20 years. The first was a street festival tarot card reader, and she was so spot on that I was devastated for days. It was bam, bam, bam, bam as what she told me played out over the next 9-12 months. She taught me to respect their work. The next was a crap store front psychic, and that taught me to always research people if I was going to spend money. The next two were heavily researched. I saw one in NYC this past June and looked her up extensively before I visited her. It took three subway transfers to get to her on a storming night when I got lost in the village. I was wet, tired, and frustrated when I popped up in her space. She was taken aback and asked me how I found her. I told her I researched her. She didn't quite know what to think of that, but she did a complete tarot card reading, and the influences and potential events she outlined have been bam, bam, bam playing out ever since. She wasn't 100% right. Some details are different, such as the person I have conflict with at my job is a woman, not a man, and she said a man. But she was more on than off. And well worth thirty bucks.

Sheesh you guys. I don't call a psychic every time the wind changes. Once every 5 years is probably pretty statistically average. I know I'm not the only one.

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 9:56 am 2

On Joan Didion on Woody Allen

Then there is this response to Dylan's letter:

http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/161542/who-is-responsible-for-dylan-farrows-pain

Author Alana Newhouse claims that Mia's decision not to press charges "disabled our ability to judge either way" since "we, as private citizens, are not imbued with the right to pass these judgments." Oh really, we're not? That's news. Because I thought the court of public opinion has the right to judge the courts of law and find them lacking or absent. Public opinion being part of the function of a free society and all that. The author then ends with a cheap psychoanalytic potshot - that Dylan isn't mad at us, she's actually mad at her mother. Bollocks, Tablet. Sniveling bollocks.

The Allen-defense rages on. And most journalism seems to be cheapened for it.

Thank you Megasus for the link to that Vanity Fair article. I read it in the past but could never remember where it was from!

I hope Ronan Farrow turns out to be Sinatra's kid. And I really don't want to read the memoirs of the two daughters Allen adopted with Soon-Yi, written in fifteen years. Ugh.

Posted on February 3, 2014 at 10:31 pm 1