September 30, 2008
September 20, 2008
The movers are here. The contents of the apartment are draining into the truck with disconcerting rapidity. There's not much about this neighborhood that we will miss, but one of our great regrets just walked past us up the sidewalk. Our neighbor John Stirratt, bassist for Wilco and before that for Uncle Tupelo, just ambled past pushing a stroller on his morning walk. He glanced at the open front door of our apartment, and at the hustling movers, as he passed by me and my armful of odds and ends, and it was probably just my imagination that he looked a little disappointed. We've said hello to him but never felt comfortable "bothering" him to try to strike up a conversation. We've struck up conversations with plenty of other people in the neighborhood, though none of those conversations ever led to making actual friends. But even given that dismal batting average, why did we shy away from even talking to the most obviously interesting* person on our side of the street? I feel very sad about this failure, and like a giant asshole. Maybe he and his family are lonely here too.
* I don't mean to imply that no one else on the street could possibly be interesting to talk to, just that Stirratt represents a subject I know already that I'm interested in.
September 18, 2008
Take a picture of yourself right now. Don’t change your clothes. Don’t fix your hair. Just take a picture. Post that picture with no editing. (Except maybe to get the image size down to something reasonable. Don’t go posting an eight megapixel image.) Include these instructions.
I had to go into the pantry to get my iPhone, which was there recharging, or otherwise you might have seen all the packed boxes behind me right now. (Though I've been ferrying our plants, art, computer equipment, and other odd items to the new place all week, the big move takes place Saturday.) It only occurred to me after the fact that I could have used the webcam built into this fancy new Toshiba laptop (purchased yesterday, because packing my ass off doesn't mean there isn't time to go to Circuit City and buy a new laptop with which to write new stories in the new apartment), but I'm not used to thinking about there being a webcam in front of my face all the time yet. I just finished repainting a little strip of wall in the kitchen where our paper towel holder used to be. Fortunately we still have the leftover Glorious Gold in the storage room in the basement. Ella is keeping me company, by the way:
And believe it or not, that's her prescription bottle in the cabinet behind my left shoulder.
September 13, 2008
It's raining fairly hard here in Chicago this morningnot like in Texas, certainly, but hard enough that there's standing water a foot deep in places on our street. Ella and I just got back from an hour-long walk in that deluge. We had a famous time, chasing wet squirrels in the park and clambering on the maze of playground equipment that is forbidden to dogs.
Ella was kind enough to deposit a pile of turds near a large plastic rolling waste bin. It was the kind of bin with a hinged lid that is supposed to stay closed to keep rats out. The lid was open, though, and I swung the tied plastic bag of Ella's turds through the air and into the bin. Two points!
But the thud and swish of the bag landing in the bin was followed immediately by a harsh, raspy squeal. Startled, I moved near the bin and peered over the rim. A medium-sized rat was hunched in the sludgy foot of garbage at the bottom. I jerked back, then peered in again. The rat was soaked and looked terrified.
I drew back again. I had never seen a terrified rat before. I didn't know if it was injured, or if it had babies in there, or what, but clearly it was unable to climb the smooth, wet sides of the bin and escape.
I didn't really take much time to think it over. Really, the rat and were enemies. If it were in my basement, I would not hesitate to lay a giant trap to snap its spine. But the park was neutral ground, a human-rodent-canine DMZ. After looking around to make sure that Ella was sniffing somewhere else and not paying attentionshe likes to chase rats almost as much as rabbits and squirrelsI carefully tipped the bin away from me. I heard the garbage shift and the rat squealed again. When the bin lay on its side on the ground, a gush of filthy water flooded out.
I moved around to the opening and peered in. The rat was pacing back and forth above the garbage on a sort of lip on the bottom of the bin, where the wheels on the outside were recessed. Now that I could see it better, it did not appear injured. I figured I'd done what I could and walked away to join Ella as she sniffed for rats under the playground equipment.
I looked back at the bin a minute later from a distance and saw the rat's head poke out. It scurried out and I lost sight of it almost immediately. Before we left the park, I righted the bin again, and Ella was never the wiser.
September 12, 2008
Here are a set of three very different articles, different in every way, one for each of the three beauty queens in John McCain's life:
The Daily Mail on Carol McCain:
"The Wife U.S. Republican John McCain Callously Left Behind" by Sharon Churcher
The New Yorker on Cindy McCain:
"The Lonesome Trail" by Ariel Levy
The Nation on Sarah Palin:
"Beauty and the Beast" by Joann Wypijewski
We have tabloid journalism, sober liberal reporting, and over-the-top analysis that tries too hard, but I found each article interesting in its own way.
Sarah Palin doesn't know what the Bush Doctrine is, and her embarrassing attempts to weasel a clue out of Charles Gibson are not even worthy of a high-school forensics student:
Yes, Mrs. Palin, obviously you're ready to be President. I will sleep without nightmares knowing you will answer that three a.m. phone call with that blank deer-in-headlights stare. You make me pine for Dan Quayle.
NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered have begun a fascinating joint series that convenes a panel of voters from York, Pennsylvania, for a roundtable discussion of race and how it affects the 2008 election. (Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.)
Sadly, some of the conclusions drawn seem to bear out what I was saying yesterday about voting with the gut. One white woman, after swearing that she was raised in a home utterly without prejudice, proceeded to accuse Obama of lying about not being a Muslim:
Leah Moreland, the woman who said she grew up sheltered from prejudice, plans to vote for McCain. Party loyalty is also part of her decision. But her cultural compass also comes into play. She says her gut tells her not to trust Obama.I recommend listening to the audio of both these stories. I was listening to Part 2 in the car yesterday afternoon and yelling at the paranoid white people on the radio. (I yell at the radio a lot these days.)
"I look at Obama, and I have a question in my mind," she says. "Years ago, was he taken into the Muslim faith? And my concern is the only way you are no longer a Muslim is if you are dead, killed. So in my mind, he's still alive."
Although Barack Obama has said repeatedly he is not a Muslim and has never been a Muslim, Moreland is still unconvinced.
"There is something about him I don't trust," she says. "I don't care how good a speaker he is, I just can't trust him." [full article]
But though this strikes me as obvious idiocy, I can't be entirely self-righteous. I admit that I'm a lot more wary walking through the crowd of black kids that hang out on our corner than I probably would be with a crowd of white kids (though I like to think that I dislike all teenagers equally).