Rorschach test

Some people would see this drawing and interpret it literally:

Clearly, we’ve got Rapunzel, Sleep Beaut, and two little purple hearts named Emily.

But I’m not some people, and all I see is a prolapsed uterus.


Men behaving disgustingly: About moral ambiguity and which sleazebag is sleazier

“Politicians got lipstick on the collar, the whole media startin’ to holler.
But I don’t give a fuck who they screwin’ in private. I wanna know who they screwin’ in
public. Robbin’, cheatin’, stealin,’ white collar criminal, McDonald eatin’. You deserve a
beatin.’ Send you home weepin’, with a fat bill for your Caribbean weekend.” –Michael

Oy vey. Has it been the season for awful behavior or what? Granted, it’s a numbingly
long season dating (at least) all the way back to, “It depends on what the definition
of is is,” to “I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport,” continuing right on
past “I don’t know if that picture is me. It could well be. It looks like me. I don’t know
who that baby is. I have no idea what that picture is,” and directly into “I told my
wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago.”

Blech. It leaves a taste in the mouth more unpleasant than semen, doesn’t it?

Last week, John Edwards was indicted on several counts, none of which include
being an anal goiter, which isn’t illegal. Unfortunately for Dominique Strauss-Kahn,
sexually assaulting maids is illegal. Luckily for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, when
you’re a rich white dude, you get to live in a $50,000 a month townhouse while you
await trial. Somehow I doubt Herman Cain would enjoy such privilege under the
same circumstances.

Capping off the recent spate of ewwww, gross! by lots of powerful men, was the
tweeted photo of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s semi-erect-in-boxer-briefs wiener. Or his
purported wiener, he said, denying any recollection of whether the protruding penis
picture was his. Which made perfect sense to me, since I have absolutely no idea if
my naked pictures of me are me.

I immediately attributed the partial peen (unsee! Unsee!) to James O’Keefe or
Andrew Breitbart, purely as a coping mechanism. What public narcissist
servant would be so obtuse as to take naked self-portraits in the current climate?
Note to future egomaniacal leaders: Don’t let your fetish photos fall into the wrong
hands (how did Breitbart get all these snapshots?).

In the days leading up to his admission, Weiner said he was hiring his own
investigative team. This tack worked out well for the Catholic Church when its
own recent investigation into sexual abuse by priests finally cleared up that whole
mishegoss. It’s all in the past now, they say. And it wasn’t celibacy that made ‘em
do it, neither. It was the 60’s. All that goddamned bra burning free love had
repercussions, people.

Mmmhmm. And Eddie Murphy was just giving the transvestite hooker a ride home.

Prior to Weiner’s pathetic confession and bare-chested-and flexing-screen shots, CNN’s Piers
Morgan launched his own investigation into Cock Shot 2011 (I wrote this before Jon Stewart used it, by the way) by consulting, via
phone with Rudy Giuliani, a leading expert on ewww, gross!

The former mayor of New York—notorious for a moral turpitude desperately out
of sync with the family values mantra of his party—should have recused himself.
That would have been classy. But Giuliani is klassy and instead offered a breathless
condemnation of Weiner; his exasperation must have left righteous spittle all over
his Blackberry.

Klassier still was Giuliani’s response to Morgan’s next line of questioning, which
focused on whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s use of state police
helicopters to get to his kid’s baseball games was also inappropriate. (Christie has
since written a personal check as reimbursement. A true mensch, that one.)

Giuliani had no problem with Christie using taxpayer money this way. Yet, his
opposing opinions on the two sets of circumstances revealed the size of his moral
yard stick, if you know what I’m sayin’. And I think we’ve all seen just about enough
of that.

Christie had to get to the games, he said. It’s clear Christie is a devoted family man, he
said. The helicopter was going to be up there in the air anyway, he said. Well played,
Rudy. Well played.

Unfortunately, Piers Morgan missed this opportunity to remind viewers that this
mini-Newt-Gingrich—who was fucking his communications director before he was
fucking Judith Nathan, all while married to Donna Hannover who he was fucking
while married to his second-cousin-first wife—used lots of taxpayer money to visit
his mistress (which one, I’m not exactly sure). Also not included as a credibility
asterisk, was the fact that Giuliani’s then-lover, now-third wife began getting city-
provided chauffeur services from the NYPD well before he admitted to his affair.

But, hey. Giuliani didn’t take phone pics of his penie and send them across the
Internet (that we know of). He didn’t have a love child with a maid (that we know
of). And something I bet he’d consider evidence of his upstanding character: He
didn’t sexually assault any maids (that we know of). Bonus points for him!

Obviously, there is a difference between a rapist and your everyday despicable
prick. But the news is ugly enough to make Octomom’s new bikini pictures look hot,
and that’s saying something. Have you seen them yet? She’s all chiseled, tucked,
pulled, plumped and Botoxed within an inch of where her hymen used to be,
wearing an animal print bikini, and kneel-squatting in ocean foam like she’s trying
to alleviate a months-long bout of constipation. She’s holding her hair up with one
hand, and with the other, she’s dragging behind her what I can only presume is a
brown, soggy burp cloth. It’s not sexy. It’s horrifying.

But it’s better than an imperious Rudy Giuliani pretending he has any moral
authority whatsoever. And it’s way, way better than these self-enamored,
impervious fucksticks flashing their fuck sticks all about town and thinking they
aren’t going to get caught.

Undervalued: The absurdity of teacher as scapegoat

“Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true: Teachers make a goddamn difference! What about you?” —From “What Teachers Make, or Objection Overruled, or If Things Don’t Work Out, You Can Always Go to Law School” by poet Taylor Mali

As I write this, the battle between the mouth-breathing governor of Wisconsin and American workers is raging. It’s my hope that, as you read this, the 14 Democratic senators necessary for a vote on Scott Walker’s union-busting bill will still be in their undisclosed bunkers, fondling their newly grown balls. It sure has been nice to see the Dems finally stand for something, even if it is too little too late.

Regardless of how this “brouhaha”—as Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal dismissively called this pivotal moment in American history— plays out, and aside from the larger issue of Unions: Good or Evil?, I am awestruck by the widespread disdain for teachers, a profession, as it happens, largely undertaken by women. But that’s another column.

The broad demonization of teachers is being underscored by the daily news cycle. It’s not just one or two states taking an antagonistic stance toward teachers; this is happening everywhere.

State education officials in Michigan have ordered closure of half the schools in Detroit, where class sizes in the high schools will swell to 60 students in the coming year.

In Providence, R.I., teachers were given a layoff notice last week. This doesn’t mean all 2,000 of them won’t have jobs next year (some of them definitely won’t). But it does mean they work the remainder of this year knowing they may not have jobs next year. Yay for workplace morale! I should point out that annual layoff notices are not uncommon and are, on the contrary, part of the fabric of our modern education system. They’re a yearly occurrence across the country. Sort of like Christmas. With lumps of coal. Delivered by Scrooge.

Back in Madison, Wisc., highly paid (non-unionized) administrators are refusing sick pay to teachers who were absent from work while protesting Walker’s proposed bill. Each of these administrators—who I know have never fudged on a sick day—is conveniently channeling an inner Helen Lovejoy. The poor children are not learning when a teacher spends a day in the capitol rotunda with her sign that reads, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”

Never mind the civics lesson inherent in civil disobedience; these teachers should shut up and teach—and never deviate from mandated curriculum. Or else.

As if the headlines aren’t alarming enough, one little jaunt into the toxic waters of any comment section reveals a widespread derision.

“I love teachers…. for all their self righteous babble…” wrote someone calling himself Deucejack on The Huffington Post. “[T]hey don’t give two nickels about the kids they supposedly provide a service to. LMOA at teachers…. Now I’m laughing at the unions in their last nose dive.” One thing is certain: Douchejackass here could have used a better grammar teacher.

Comments like this are disturbingly abundant and wildly narrow in their vision. Just as in any other profession, there will always be what I call “driftwood” among teachers; there is a small subset who are underachievers, skaters, system-bilkers and incompetents. They exist and Sarah Palin is the poster child for this unrefudiateable fact. Her devotees serve as supporting evidence.

But, by and large, teachers teach precisely because they give at least—and usually far more than—two nickels about the children in their care. With a child six months into kindergarten, I’ve had an opportunity to spend time in the classroom and see what a teacher does when she’s set adrift by a society that progressively downgrades her worth.

With increasing class sizes, no aides, few support staff, absurdly limited supplies and resources, an endless barrage of new training requirements and too many too-busy-working-multiple-jobs-to-be-involved parents, a teacher puts a smile on her face and welcomes her children in the morning. Then she goes right on ahead and teaches her ass off.

While meeting district-, state- and federally mandated goals, she also acts as counselor, nurse, custodian, disciplinarian and parent. She manages personalities, fixes scrapes and cuts, wipes noses and tears. She helps her kids navigate ever-changing relationships and moods. At any given time, she’s attending to the hurt feelings of one child and attempting to engage another whose attention span is fleeting. She may be patiently problem solving with a child who struggles with a concept or assisting four others on a math test. Often, she’s doing any number of these things simultaneously, while teaching!

In addition to all of this—and her prep work and training and certifications—she responds to perhaps the most demanding customers in her equation: parents, both those who respect what she does and those who don’t. There isn’t enough money in the world that could entice me to do even that part of the job, let alone the rest of it.

For seven hours a day, five days a week, 40 weeks each year, for 13 years, we put our children in the care of teachers. But from the way many folks are vilifying them, you’d think our little bumpkins were spending time with Osama bin Laden.

(As published today in San Diego CityBeat.)

Pre-resolution inventory

I was going to take photos of my gym socks for y’all to see how well I’ve been doing on un-resolution number 5, but my husband has already washed, folded and stacked on my dresser the four pairs I dirtied in pursuit of my un-resolution number 4. He’s such a mensch! I totally should have included weekly blow jobs on my list, and I thought about it at the time, honest! I mean, how hard could four fellatios in four weeks be, right? It’s not like I’m married with a kid or anything hurdle-ish and daunting like that.

No, the goals I set were wholly do-able. So it’s surprising to note that I’ve ganked nearly all of them as spectacularly as Brett Favre’s spiraling career. Let’s take a look:

1.This past week, my fastest Sudoku time was longer than all my days on earth. Maybe because I fell asleep while playing?

2. Not only did I not say no to spearheading, I am now spearheading the communications for my kid’s kindergarten class, exactly the opposite of no spearheading. Never mind that I still have to write and send the first communiqué and am suffering angst over not having done it yet and worrying about it hanging over my head and oh! that’s the damned reason I said NO! SPEARHEADING! in the first place! What is wrong with me?

3. About that daily writing… I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

4. I’m coming in this close [] on the 5-workouts-a-week thing and though I could seal the deal by going to Pilates tomorrow night,  I have to go to the day job first, where I’ll come face-to-face with the insane supervisor who I hung up on today. Later, I’ll race out of there to meet with a principal, then rush across a few blocks to confront a school board heavy, and pay lots of devoted attention to my child.  Pilates or cocktails with friends is my choice for the evening hours and…well, look. This one isn’t my fault: There are goals and then there are methods of maintaining sanity that do not in anyway align with keeping goals.

5. I covered this one in the intro but let’s celebrate properly: HUGE SUCCESS! GYM SOCKS! RIGHT! SIDE! IN! HUSBAND HAPPY!*

6. I’m swearing like a woman who’s school board is going to eliminate all the janitorial staff, nurses, counselors, office personel, librarians and busing at her school, and I’m paying twenty-five cents to the child every single time she hears me. She may be illiterate—save for a few choice expletives—when she pops out the other end of this California Public School/How To Fill Our Prisons For Years To Come Experiment. But she’ll have herself a nice little community college nest egg. And anyway, who really needs fucking librarians?

7. That whole two-spaces-after-each-sentence thing is for the nerds. I never did want a doctorate anyway.

As for The Rejectionist? Well. She’s failed in more than one area too, which made me feel less alone. But she’s held fast against the Maker’s Mark and written all up and down and sideways about it. I have to congratulate her on a fine success with a formidable goal. Go forth, I say to her, and spread lovingkindness if you must. But, Madame, if you start parroting SARK and asking policemen to arrest your inner critics? Do NOT blame the Internet when we restrain you and pour bourbon down your throat. It will be for your own good.

*But not as happy as he could be.

I quit, part two: Life before Facebook is better than I remembered it

I think it’s official: I’m a curmudgeonly old person. I listen almost exclusively to NPR. I recount, daily, how there were naps and no homework when I was in kindergarten. I sometimes drink coffee with my lunch. I can’t see well at night, and while I don’t have to put my teeth in a jar before going to bed, I’ve decided that Facebook is the Devil.

And so it was that without much pain at all, I found and hit the “deactivate” button on my account a couple of weeks ago. I was promptly bombarded with a well-executed, if ineffective, guilt trip: Rachel **** will miss you if you leave! Steve ***** will miss you if you leave! Joe ***** will miss you if you leave! And so on and so on.

I was unmoved: As it happens, I was going to be drinking beers that very night, live and in-person, with all the friends who were going to be missing me. At least they’d have the opportunity to pine for me face-to-face.

Less than one week after freeing myself of the cloying self-promotion, inane inner dialogue and regurgitated thoughts that define Facebook, I heard Mark Zuckerberg talking on NPR about his latest endeavor to take over the world. Of his new e-mail-ish method of communication, he said: “All your IMs, messages, e-mails, SMSs go into that, and you have one history, and you can kind of go through it forever, right? And that’s going to be really cool because five years from now, you’re going to just have this full, rich history of all of the communication that you have with each of your friends and the people around you.”

A “full, rich history of all of the communication that you have with each of your friends and the people around you”? “Really cool”? Oh my God, you guys. Humans are so doomed.

Who wants a transcription of their life?

Not me, thanks. The transcribed existence is not cool. What it is is thoroughly disturbing. And let’s face it: Zuckerberg, of all people, should know that the only folks interested in his version of a “full, rich history” are lawyers.

Here’s the thing: What makes life full and rich is not a public announcement of every headache, twitch, itch, crane, peacock or firefly pose successfully (or not successfully) accomplished. Namaste.

It is not the status update about your sit-ups, push-ups, break-ups, breakdowns, kisses, orgasms, orgies and subsequent afterglow (and tagged photo documentation of all of it).

It’s not the countless wasted hours of swirly-eyed reading about all these things done or not done by your friends or “friends” or boyfriends or exes or childhood playground playmates whom you haven’t seen in 30 years.

It’s not the quick, heartfelt posting of “Happy Birthday, You!” on the wall of a friend whose memory in your mind’s eye is, more often than not, way better than the reality of who they turned out to be, the poor schmuck.

It’s not the use of what Grant Barrett of A Way With Words calls “paralinguistic restitution”—those little clues also known as <3 and J and LOL—in an endless effort to convey that which would otherwise be conveyed through a conversation held by two people in the same physical space.

And a full, rich history is definitely not navigating the dangerous quagmire of drama that arises when the <3s and Js fail to fill in the blanks after a simple status update is woefully misinterpreted.

What it is—this “full, rich history”—is what you build with the people in your real life, with whom you spend real time, to whom you send real birthday cards and for whom you buy real cocktails. It’s what you have with people who know your phone number—if not by memory, then by contact list—and use it.

It’s what you have with a person you can (and want to) touch and hug and laugh to the point of tears with over some joke that isn’t going to be recorded for all eternity, and, believe me, that joke isn’t going to be half as funny five years from now, with a few emoticons tacked onto the end reminding you to LOL.

A full and rich history is what you build when you look a friend or a neighbor or a parent or a child in the eyes and connect and discover and truly understand the complexity of being human. What makes life full and rich is the exact opposite of Zuckerberg’s wonderfully, permanently, litigiously tracked “forever” interactions. The brilliance and glory in a full and rich life is, of course, the fleetingness of it all. The impermanence of now. It’s the knowledge that there is an end in store for all of us, even—though they would deny it—for those who live today in prostration for an eternal tomorrow, an endless string of sunny days to be spent at the Great Big Shopping Mall in the Sky.

>It’s all temporary, so you’d better get busy and smell the roses. Or, spend your time texting to your Facebook wall, “I’m at the zoo with the monkeys!” while the monkeys fling shit at your oblivious face, turned down as it is, focused on your smart phone.

This constant exposure and revealing and sharing and recording and general vomiting of every single second of our lives—an ongoing habit shared by 500 million of us with a now-insatiable need for constant validation— isn’t meaningful. It’s gross.

And that’s why I quit. Because I want to be less gross. So far, so good. But we can revisit this status update when my teeth begin to fall out.

(As published yesterday in San Diego CityBeat.)

It’s all in the perspective

This shot was taken by one jonmmmayhem who I discovered via Violet Blue (I shouldn’t even have to tell you that today’s links are NSFW). mayhem is a naughty guy with a river of titillating and whoa, doggie! images made in varying formats. I’m partial to his Polaroids—I love the retro feel (I covet my Polaroid camera), and the imperfections and grain of the film only feed the intensity and rawness of his subjects. But I thought this particular capture would help start a conversation I’ve been having in my head lately about what exactly constitutes obscene. Because that up there? To me? There’s not even a lint ball of obscenity in it. Unless, of course, your definition of “obscene” is number two in the following itemized list from


/əbˈsin/ [uhb-seen] –adjective

1. offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved: obscene language.
2. causing uncontrolled sexual desire.
3. abominable; disgusting; repulsive.

To clarify, I’m using definitions 1 and 3 as my baseline. As such, jonmmmayhem’s work—or these fantastic mouth-waterers over here—are not obscene. This, however, is obscenity times a jillion, raised to the seventh plus three exclamation points:

I was on the hunt yesterday for a wind chime for Ruby’s school when I had a massive I-have-to-have-a-Coke-right-now attack. For the record, I have a Coke about three times each year and have never driven through a drive through just to order one. But yesterday I did just that. I whipped through Burger King between stops and ordered a large Coke. That was it. No burger, no fries, just a large Coke. And look at what I got! That isn’t large. That is obscene. My reaction upon seeing it was not unlike my reaction during college when I paired up with my friend Geoff for a little laundry-room fellatio during a house party one summer afternoon. He and I had always been platonic until that day when we’d enjoyed too much tequila and when, as a result, I learned precisely why he was often referred to as “The Howitzer” by his friends.  Suffice it to say, once I composed myself, I had to politely decline my services. And I’m not one to back down from a challenge. Whether I’m being honest, obscene or delicately crass is a matter of opinion.

Anyway, it’s not just the size (!) of the drink or the toxicity of the beverage itself that is disconcerting. It’s not even the giant plastic, petroleum-made cup that will end up in a landfill after my trash is collected today. But guess how much that howitzer cost me? Ready for this? $2.49. I mean, hello. Totally, absurdly, unquestionably obscene.

And speaking of petroleum, how about this for obscene:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Shall I keep going?

Because there’s plenty of it:

Everyday, for the forseeable future.

Of course, “sometimes accidents happen,” right?

We know that Rand Paul thinks he’s The Greatest American Hero and you gotta admit, the likeness is uncanny:

Paul even flails like our boy in red, perhaps the only silver lining in the obscenity that is Kentucky’s latest and greatest contribution to our planet. Somehow I doubt the guy named after the Objectivist Queen even knows who John Galt is. I personally think John Galt is the undocumented worker, and I’d like to see how well the U.S. would fare if they all went on strike in lieu of their own Utopian society. Seafood certainly wouldn’t be the only outrageously expensive food in our grocery stores.

Give me a (preferrably spiked) Coke and some anti-Steve Jobs internet porn any day. What say you, reader? What is obscene to you?

Just warming up for the Big Post

Overheard at my dentist’s office last week:

Patient (white, middle-aged, male) at reception: I missed Aubrey. I was really hoping she would be cleaning my teeth today.

Receptionist: I know, I know. She’s on her honeymoon.

Patient: Where did she go?

Receptionist: Africa.

Patient: Wow! She just might come back with a bone in her nose. Hahahahahahaha!

Receptionist: Ha ha…um…ha ha (ahem)…ha haa…

Patient: You’ll have to tell her I said that! Hahaha. No. Nevermind. Don’t tell her. I’ll tell her myself next time. Hahahahahha.

Book smart vs. Common Sense

On the heels of the “ghetto-party” drama at the esteemed University of California, San Diego this week—which I will be writing about shortly, believe you me, oh yes I will—my husband’s business partner found a note on the ground, lost by, presumably, one of the University’s fine, over-achieving students. It concerns me how this individual is managing in life and more so, how she/he is going to get through tomorrow without the lost memo.

Hand written in pencil on a postcard-size piece of paper with violins and cats on it (see? Already, I question the functional capacity of this person), is the To Do list:

- 7:10am = Sleep

- 7:40 = Get ready

- 7:45 = Walk to school bus

- 8:00 = Get to class

- 8:50 = Class

- 9:00 = Walk

- 9:50- Class

I mean, where on this list is this person supposed to squeeze in breathing?

Dear John Mayer,

When Playboy asked you whether black women “throw themselves” at you, you said:

“I don’t think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.”

Well, jeeze. This is awkward but…dude! You said that—among many other inane things— OUT LOUD. To a reporter. And anyway, do you really think your racist dick is the reason black women don’t dig you?


The Benetton folks must be cringing.

Honey, you are an affront to frat boys everywhere and that’s a damn near impossible feat.  You are not smart. You are not cute. You are not deep. You are not intellectual or witty or cool or hip or dope or fly or whatever it is you fancy yourself to be.  You have a small, small, small brain and a very big mouth. You are a self-important asshat raised to the 11th power, quadrupled by dickheadery, topped with three servings of phony and one heaping scoop of overcompensation.

Do humanity a favor, John Mayer, and please stop talking. Just shut the fuck up and go far away. Make that annual Mayercraft Cruise of yours permanent. Put on your Gopher-from-The-Love-Boat costume, set your vessel on starboard tack and make a bee line for an iceberg.


Just…yeah. Don’t come back.


Speaking of bras…

…let’s talk about breasts.

Keep A Breast

This week, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF) released a new set of recommendations for breast cancer screening that turns on it’s head what women have come to expect as far as screening for breast cancer, the second leading cause of death in American women.

Recommending that women not receive mammograms until the age of 50 and then once every other year after that, the USPSTF has concluded that “the current evidence is insufficient to assess the additional benefits and harms of clinical breast examination beyond screening mammography in women 40 years of age or older.”

That part about “current evidence is insufficient to assess the additional benefits and harms” raised my eyebrows. Insufficient evidence to make a call either way? So that means this influential panel upends the current protocol—mammograms every one to two years beginning at age 40— instead of sticking with it?

*Shakes head.*

Call me crazy but the new guideline instantly made me think this is has something to do with money. But what really got my hackles up was this next part about how the USPSTF “recommends against clinicians teaching women how to perform breast self-examination.”

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!? As if the first part of this announcement wasn’t disturbing enough on its own, this second bit feels utterly irresponsible and lazy and callous and pitiable and oy vey, I need a drink. Or a bong hit. Or a shopping spree at Anthropologie with Michael Bloomberg’s credit card.

Now, perhaps there’s a reasonable reason for postponing mammograms. Probably not, given all that copious “insufficient evidence,” but I’m willing to suspend disbelief for a moment and offer a one-time-only benefit of a doubt on this one. I’m feeling generous today. But how, how, HOW can it be bad for a woman to learn what her normal breast tissue feels like? Someone? Anyone? Bueller? Because if you know normal breast tissue when you feel it, you will know abnormal breast tissue when you feel it. You feel me? Which makes me think immediately of my friend Amanda.


Isn’t she gorgeous? Vivacious? Young? Indeed. Gorgeous, vivacious, young Amanda found a lump in her breast with her very own fingers  and was diagnosed with stage-3b breast cancer when she was just 27 years old.


Amanda is a breast cancer survivor. You can read Amanda’s story here.

I’m curious to know: How do you women (and my male readers, too) feel about this dramatic shift in women’s health care? Do you feel like maybe we’re getting the shaft? Just a little?