Saturday, April 30, 2011


i'm in one of those emotional places that tends to cause issues. not dangerous ones, just annoying or problematic ones. i have four exams: tuesday, saturday, monday and next thursday. i have a TON of work to do to get ready for them. and do i care?

NOPE. not a damn sight. in the words of one of my fellow LL.M. burnouts, like honey badger, i just don't give a fuck. it was possibly an error in judgment to go back to school after i earned my law license. i could not give a rip about this. here are the things i currently care about, in order:

1) the man
2) my friends far and wide
3) the job (23 days until i'm a wage-earning grownup again! eee!)
4) the conference in miami next week
5) the baseball games i'm attending today, tomorrow and monday
6) the caps series (stupid tampa bay.)
7) my waistline
8) school. kinda.

what the hell? i used to be queen of the school buffs. i wasn't that kid who'd remind the teacher to give out homework, but i'd obsess over everything assigned. even when i developed a procrastination problem in high school, i still turned out good work. but now i'm confronted with a dilemma: i do NOT care about doing the work, but i DO care about the results. it's problematic, to say the least. in fact, i should be working right now. am i? that's a negative. i'm watching the draft and, well, doing this. motivation and i are not friends, and i clearly have issues with priorities.

but the sun is out, the sky is blue, and i have no damn drive whatsoever. this is not a combination for academic success. let's see if i can force myself into doing things right for the rest of the exam period. push, push, push, right?


Friday, April 29, 2011

history lesson #3: the pledge

the week was hard, so very hard. i mean, it's not like everyone doesn't have their own where were you when the towers fell? story. i won't get into mine here. but the week of september 11 was one of those times when every single moment is burned into my memory in a hazy, oversaturated palette. i was in the tiny mountain town of my boyfriend's alma mater the day they fell, back across the commonwealth a day later, and back again that weekend to mourn the fallen.

what a crazy week. the first thing that greeted me when i walked into the fraternity house that friday was the dozen white roses in a crystal vase, ringed with a wide black ribbon, sent from nationals to commemorate our fallen friend. it didn't get much easier. we all drank together like it was the last night of prohibition, but the tone was off. we drank out of confusion, anger, sadness, rage and a desperate need to reset things. after all, it was normal, okay again, if we drank on a friday night. that was what life was before everything went wrong.

i told the story of the football game before. that night, we went back to the house. there was more loud, confused drunkenness downstairs. hell, i blame no one. we were kids, and what the hell did we know about grieving? most of us still had most of our grandparents living. so the boyfriend and i went upstairs to bed, just to steal a moment to ourselves. we were twenty-two (him) and twenty (me). we were seniors. we were going to graduate into a world that just got turned onto its head. every single thing we thought we knew had been tilted in some way or another. the only thing we had to cling to was each other. so we talked about this. we held onto each other, and as we did, he said to me, will you marry me?

really? yes. will you marry me?

we kept it to ourselves that night, calling our families and friends in the morning. we spread the news, one person at a time, all through the day. and it was a nerve tonic for everyone we spoke with. one of our friends threw his arms around me and yelled, thank god! good news! so how could we ever think we were doing anything but the right thing? and that little, tiny voice, back in the dusty corner of my head, whispering are you sure? it was nothing. we made the pledge, and in that moment, the reeling chaos of the world fell away. we were strong, we were certain, and that made it okay.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

god bless alabama

this soundtrack, and this entry, are special to me.

see, i talk a lot about my louisiana connections around here, as well as how much the gulf coast matters to me. i talk also about my city-kid homeland, our nation's capital. i may have even mentioned that, heavens preserve us, i was born in new jersey. but the place that made me, formed me, educated me and gave me so much of the good in my life is the heart of dixie, the yellowhammer state herself: alabama. i am, at my heart, an alabamian. i spent the bulk of my days on this earth, my entire K-12 education and one year of college, 15 years in all, living in mobile, alabama.

mobile was spared yesterday. north alabama? well, this speaks for itself. devastating. horrifying. words can't say. how bad is it? well, last may, i drove back from DC to louisiana to attend the wedding of one of my girls from law school. passing through birmingham, i got caught in a massive gully-washer of a storm. HUGE gusts of wind, torrential downpour, the whole nine. the sky was this weird shade of green, and there was this kind of whooshing noise all around me. i was driving the tank of an SUV i'd rented to move myself up to DC, so i stayed on the highway. but when the clouds parted, it was pretty clear there'd been a twister of some kind. that was scary, and it was absolutely NOTHING compared to what happened yesterday. this was horror. entire towns have been wiped off the map. hundreds are dead. thousands are homeless. that monstrous tornado cut across the entire state. that's over 200 miles of biblical destruction.

it hurts my heart to see places i love in peril. and folks, this is as perilous as it gets. people i love are homeless, or facing huge repairs. (the man's family, scattered up there, is all accounted for, thank god.) so if you get around to it, here are some ways you can help my homeland out.

there's always the red cross. they're awesome.

team rubicon is a phenomenal organization: they're veterans who come in and help with medical care in times of disaster. kinda like modern-day MASH units, but for civilians.

this blogger has a good aggregation of other links, too, some specific to alabama and others with national reach.

and if you're in DC, there's a fundraiser at gin and tonic in glover park saturday night at 9:00 PM.

my heart aches for the heart of dixie. alabama gets a bad rap in this culture, but it was a damn nice place to be a kid. ('BOTB, gillian, andy and erin in particular know what i mean.) i love that place more than i can describe. it's where i met my love, where i learned to climb trees and turn coquina shells into butterfly pictures. i sat under dogwoods, sunned on white-sand beaches, and yes, loved the fragrance of the magnolia tree drifting on the breeze through my bedroom window. it gave me everything. i'm going to give it something back. will y'all give too?

this child of alabama thanks you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

inner city blues (make me wanna holler)

yeah, it makes me wanna holler
throw up both my hands...
panic is spreading
god knows where we're heading

the high priest of socially conscious soul, marvin gaye, wrote those words. he hasn't been with us on earth for 27 years now, but i think if he were, he'd invoke these lines again today. good, sweet lord, the damn birthers won. the president of the united states of america gave in to the pressure of a motley troupe of psychopaths and demonstrated - AGAIN - that he was born here. now, keep in mind, the only reason this is an issue in the first place is that there is a dangerously insane swath of our population, which now has power because a) there's an internet and b) there's entirely too much time to fill on television networks, that just can't accept the fact that a black man with a weird-sounding name got elected president. that's the truth. this is xenophobia, racism, and unbridled paranoia, and that's all.

what president obama should have said, from the very beginning, and every other time, is this: you only ask because i have a foreign-sounding name. if i were named barry o'reilly, you wouldn't care. (oh, and by the way? if this were about 110 years ago, a man named barry o'reilly would be way too irish to be president. hell, jack freaking kennedy was almost too catholic to be president.) that was, and still is, the only answer that applied. you don't legitimize crazy by taking it seriously. you treat it as it should be treated. you IGNORE it.

it's not like this is going to calm them down. hell, andrew breitbart said on twitter that (and this is a direct quote) film-flam [sic] the mystery man president has earned skepticism over his bio. i wanna see the college courses and professors he sought out. (ew. i feel dirty linking to that talentless, raging hack.) see? it's on to the next thing. nothing the white house does to attempt to pacify the fear-drunk rattled nutballs will ever be enough. this is why the man says that the internet is destroying society: it gives these people a forum, an echo chamber really, where they can talk to each other, and seeing their insanity in print makes them think it's real.

you might think that i'm being intemperate, that it's too partisan of me to be this mad, or something. um, no. this isn't about politics or ideology. this is about the fact that today, delusion triumphed - trumped, if you'll excuse the pun - over reality. and this happens WAY, WAY too often in 2011. when i was a young adolescent, a baby adult if you will, i used to say all the time, i can't wait for the grown-ups to start acting like grown-ups. you think when you're young that the adults are serious, sober-minded people who think logically and follow the rules. well, if there was ever a time in which that was true, that time is as dead as marvin gaye himself is.

sane people SHOULD be angry about this, regardless of ideological difference with the president. this is a full-on assault on so many things that make america amazing. are we really going to be bullied, cowed into abeyance, by a bunch of mindless twits who can't stand the idea that a non-white person holds the highest office in the land? that is so powerfully un-american that it makes me shake with righteous indignation. they're always on about wanting to take "their" country back. these people aren't motivated by american patriotism. the trash they spew sounds more like iran, to be honest with you. america is a country for everyone and anyone. we do not distrust people because their names sound funny. we are better than this.

so congratulations to the carnival-barker birthers and their ragged parade of stupid, venal bigotry. congratulations for dragging us further and further away from our best and brightest ideals. this is the united states of america, damn it all, and we are BETTER than this. we are better than these tiny-brained wastes of DNA. the sooner we remember that, the sooner we can heal this insidious infection that's eroding our core. the sane, the rational, the reality-based part of america, the part of our populace that refuses to succumb to this beck-fueled mind rot? WE'RE the ones who need to take the country back. not just OUR country. THE country. e pluribus unum, remember? out of many, one. those small, petty fools want to splinter, to divide, and to subjugate anything they think is "other." that's not our way here in america. WE. ARE. BETTER. THAN. THIS.

makes me wanna holler indeed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

just like heaven

the man and i, being engaged intellectual types, tend to get into fights about the issues of the day. this can be a lot of fun. hell, i am a lawyer; i love to spar, and especially with him. he's a formidable opponent, too. the one time i competed against him in mock-trial in high school, he took me to the woodshed. it was a bloodbath. but i'm better now than i was then, and we lock horns every once in awhile. these are intellectual standoffs for the ages. once, his roommate sent the following text to him, overhearing us as we debated late into the night: dude, there are MUCH better things to do with your girlfriend than that.

but because we are who we are, sometimes things get heated. and we had a battle last night that careened far from the dispassionately academic and deep into the personally-held belief arena. i did my best not to, but i lashed out a bit. he cut me; i cut back. we tussled back and forth for hours. finally, though, i could not disguise the fact that, frankly, he was hurting me. much to my tough-girl chagrin, a tear slid down my cheek. god, how frustrating - no better way to totally undercut your argument than to start crying in the middle of it. i looked down into my lap to try to get it together.

it startled me when i felt the touch of his finger on my cheek, brushing away each tear that fell. i didn't see him there. he held out his arms to me, pulled me close. you ok? i laid my head against him, and we unwound the hurt feelings together. i'm sorry i said that to you, love. i didn't mean it. i'm sorry, too. i didn't mean to make you so upset. he talked into my hair, the way he does when he has something emotional to say. you know how much i deeply respect your opinion, right? i love to argue with you. you're so smart. he kissed me. you know i love you.

this, what i have with him, is my own personal heaven on earth. to be able to have something so authentically fulfilling, on so many levels, brings me to my knees with the sheer power of how great it is. i actually find myself at a loss for words. well, except for a few: i don't know what i did to deserve him, but i'll gladly do it again and again.

Monday, April 25, 2011

own it

[disclaimer: in the immortal words of ice-T, people have to learn how to tell stories without implicating those who may not want their stories told. to the best of my ability, i do this here.]

this whole divorced-woman thing is really an onion. every day, there's a new layer to the process. i'm starting to feel like a cliche here with all this SELF-DISCOVERY. not that i'm not grateful to be a better person, to have a chance to spend the rest of my life in a much better frame of mind and all that. i'm just a little bit over feeling like a damn self-help book.

but then i think about how few people really do understand the concept of living authentically. that in and of itself sounds so silly, but let me tell you how vital it really is. not being true to what you want and doing your level best to get it is... well, it's corrosive. it eats you alive from the inside out. and people just settle for hiding themselves behind images of what they think people expect them to be, all the time. i woke up and said no more, and it's a new dawn, a new day, and a new life for me since i made that call. it's bliss, frankly.

so why do that to yourself? why be secretive, or worse, duplicitous? why tell the world you're something, when you know full well you're something else entirely? it makes me sad. why would you tell people who love you grand, sweeping falsehoods that are easily uncovered? especially when the circumstance about which you're lying could have actually happened but for the fact that you didn't want it to? to call that dissembling insults the word. not only is it a lie, though, it dishonors the love we have for you. do you think we're going to care, whatever the truth may be?

life is too damned short to live a lie. it really, really is. so be what you are, especially when you know the risk of that is low. wrap your arms around everything and own it, up, down, left and right. i can tell you from experience that living free of faking it is the only way to do it. if you actually want to live, that is. existing is an option too, i guess. but really, i've done that too. this is so, so much better...

Sunday, April 24, 2011


it's easter. you may find yourself saying, but mags, you're a militant atheist. why do you care? fair question. i mean, it's not like easter is christmas, which has some dimensions that anyone can enjoy in 2011. outside of the birth of jesus christ, there's the whole civic-secular winter party of family and friends, layered in tinsel and circled in twinkling lights, to enjoy. but easter? yeah, that's pretty much the death, ascension and resurrection of the saviour christ. not a lot there for me.

but then again, maybe there is. i don't have to believe that the stand is unvarnished truth to appreciate the symbolism, the imagery, etc. i can even look at the allegory in that book and take something from it. same here. in fact, the entirety of holy week has a lot to show me in the way of symbolism. let's start at the beginning. on palm sunday, jesus arrives in jerusalem after kicking around the holy land being pretty much righteous, spreading love and healing people. it's a grand, sweeping celebration. i swept into my marriage, my "adult" life in a heady cloud of self-righteous parading of my supposed maturity. (although in my case, it's a hundred times more cyclical than the gospels - i do this up and down thing a lot.)

but things take a turn throughout holy week, don't they? bread is broken, wine is sipped, and in the garden of gethsemane, judas stabs jesus in the back. and we're off to the races: the trial, the conviction, the washing of hands. the crucifixion, the most agonizing of deaths imaginable to modern man. i mean, hell, have you ever read what happens in a crucifixion? i did, and i do NOT recommend following suit. after all, that's the root of the word excruciating. friday, they place the stone in front of the tomb and lament the loss of the man they called jesus. heartbreak, sorrow, and the knowledge of a precious few what really happened. 'course, in my symbol-easter story, i am my own judas, because i made all the choices that led to the supposed death of me.

that brings us to easter sunday. roll the stone away, and lo and behold, the man ain't there no more. he is risen, and thus salvation comes. i mean, at salvation, this is when i lose connection to the gospel. but really, the story of salvation through the suffering is a story of rebirth, isn't it? rebirth is everywhere. tonight they debut season two of treme, the masterwork of life in new orleans post-katrina. (the man is, as we speak, watching season one; i am hiding behind headphones and a computer screen because i can't bear the weight emotionally of seeing it again.) flowers are blooming, the dread chill is slaking off in favor of renewing warmth. everything that seemed dead a few short weeks ago now seems alive.

and likewise, though i am my own betrayer, i am my own redemption. i find a certain form of familiarity in the story of rebirth. i took charge, took the reins of my own life and came back renewed. now, i am no one's saviour. i'm barely my own saviour. don't get this comparison confused with some kind of god complex. (i love myself, but come on.) but what is a divorce? it's a form of death. and what is the aftermath? it's a rebirth. you come out on the other side, one way or another. i ascend, not to redeem anyone else, but to redeem myself.

still i rise. still, i rise.