Extreme Moderation: an Olympic challenge

I got on the wrong train today. Got off 15 minutes later – was already 15 minutes late, so now it’s pushing an hour.

Ok, so the pain is up lately, not much sleep for a week, lot going on, etc. etc. The fact is, that’s how my life is: pain, survival, and figuring out how to handle normal issues under abnormal circumstances — this is just life.

I’m paying a lot of attention lately to navigating & negotiating these realities without succumbing to the inherent drama. One can have enough of drama, however seductive & compelling it is.

The fact that pain, survival and abnormal circumstances make the most thrilling narratives doesn’t make this an easy task. But who needs easy? It’s boring.

Y’know, I never thought of it that way before….

Here’s a new sport: Extreme Moderation — staying on top of my own responses and managing intelligently when my body plonks or my brain goes AWOL. What an interesting challenge for a recovering adrenaline junkie.

I’ve often said that, when you’re skirting Paradox, you’re close to naked Truth. So I think I’m onto something.

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File-sharing ~= sex, fecal transplants, and bacterial cognition

This is the richest, most fascinating article I’ve read about life, the biosphere and everything:

http://www.miller-mccune.com/science-environment/bacteria-r-us-23628/

Now that’s a writer with ADD, putting all that into one contiguous piece — but also she’s got one hell of a gift, to make it so coherent and approachable. I want to be like Valerie when I grow up!

I’m completely blown away. I’m going to go for a bus ride so I can explain to the air how thrilling bacteria are. After all, I have to take the bus ride anyway, so I might as well scare people off.

I am in paroxysms of bio-geek delight!

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On weighing the evidence

My friend J’s husband called her from work today with the immortal words, “I’ve met someone else.” If he had been able to pick a worse time in life to tell her — say, when she was hooked up to chemotherapy or had just been knocked over and broken her spine — I suspect he would have. (I’d like to think I’m joking.)

I recently had another opportunity of my own to mull over the impact of emotional deceit and betrayal, but after the initial surprise I found those reflections boring.

Instead, I turned to thinking about getting so attached to my hopes and errors that it becomes almost impossible to look at the evidence and admit I was wrong. I _was_ misled, but also, for a year, I remained more attached to my erroneous assumptions than to the weight of the evidence.

So I’m reminded of the importance of being ready to notice, and own up, when I’m likely to be wrong. What someone tells you isn’t evidence, but what they do — or fail to do — certainly is. Sooner or later, you have to go with the evidence.

J and her husband had years of shared struggles, victories, and all the usual pushme-pullyou dramas and traumas that go with two different people sharing their lives.

There were times when, on the basis of the evidence, I told her she should leave. Maybe she should have, for the sake of her own soul. But she didn’t, and her husband would almost always call when we were talking, because whether they were getting along or not, he’d still call her every hour throughout the day and then ring off with a real, “I love you.”

So what do you do when the evidence itself is so confused?

Very few people wind up in solid marriages. Both my brothers did, so I sometimes think that I should, too. But I’m beginning to believe, down to my soul, that nobody will have my back that devotedly — and maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe I shouldn’t come first to anyone, nor put anyone first, myself. Becoming that attached to something that’s so very rare in reality does seem to hinder one’s ability to see the evidence, and destroys the ability to admit that one is wrong.

I have congenital trouble with admitting that my perceptions are wrong in the first place. Perhaps I should just work on that.

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Housing crisis? Really?

More and more in the news about the feculent mess our mortgage system
is in. Housing is too costly & too scarce. Empty houses are hanging
very heavy on bankers’ hands. Office buildings stand vacant for years.
Oh dear.

Hmm.. How about making those vacant spaces available to the homeless?
In return for a little maintenance & hygeine, plus paying for whatever
water & electricity they use, you could have a huge impact on the most
vulnerable poor. Think of all the women, kids, even men who could get
enough peace, safety and stability to get back on their feet & back
into the economic life.

You could also keep empty homes from turning into eyesores. I know
quite a few squatters in organized squats, some of them there with the
owners’ knowledge, and they have had a significant effect on one or
two rotting neighborhoods because they simply won’t let their squat
rot, and they won’t let the real trash take over. It definitely keeps
the tone from getting worse & it keeps the drugs & violence down. I
guess squatters can be kinda scary — they are sure protective of
their squats.

When the place becomes rented or sold, they have to move, but should
get 30 days’ notice. Seems fair in return for how much money & trouble
they’ve saved!

A landowning friend of mine said squatters moved in, crapped on the
new carpet, tore up the repainted walls, and so forth. In my ideal
world, those squatters would be blacklisted & left to homeless
shelters. Squatters who decide to use your space should have basic
standards, and if they have some living-security in exchange,
should be ready & willing to take basic care of the place. Not that
you won’t want to bring in cleaners afterwards, but that costs
much less than re-refitting the whole interior!

In Egypt, they had boabs (two syllables: bo-ab) who lived in building
sites or abandoned residences to keep things from falling apart & keep
thieves and scavengers away. They weren’t paid much but they got free
rent. (Had some living across the street in a half-demolished house
that was tied up in litigation; nice neighbors, helped me with my
Arabic.) Since they were one step away from being on the streets, they
knew the underground and would let the neighbors know if there were
thieves in the neighborhood, if rabies had shown up in the area, or if
the Army was going to come around shooting loose dogs (their idea of
rabies control.)

Makes a lot of sense to me. So the rich neighborhood had a blue-collar
family in their midst — they made us all a little more comfortable,
overall. I’d love to have a “boab community” here!

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My contribution to the statistics

Here’s an anecdote to chill the blood.

On my 21st birthday (1987, so imagine the hair, shoulderpads & pegged
jeans), I went out with a mixed group of women friends — girly-girls,
tomboys, jocks; up & down the Kinsey scale.

After closing down the bar, we were talking over where to go to
continue the party. A drunk guy got thrown out of a car that pulled
over nearby. He eyeballed us — kissy noises, “mm-mmh!”, etc.; saw the
“oh f*ck off, you pathetic turd” implied by the way we closed him out;
then suddenly noticed we had no men with us.

That was a problem. Didn’t matter what we were, a bunch of women out
alone had to be evil bitches, or worse — lesbians. Verbal ugliness
ensued. It was disgusting.

One girl thought 2 years of karate lessons made it ok to give him the
fight he was looking for. She put up her dukes, moved him out into the
street, and they started in.

He was a shitty fighter, and drunk. But then something happened. He
went at her with an upraised fist, and another woman grabbed her from
behind and pulled her back — by the arms. WTF?

Somehow, in the midst of a sudden stillness, I got between parked
cars, moved into the street, and stationed myself between him and my
helpless cohort, in the time it took him to take 1.5 steps. I felt his
arm touch my upraised forearm, saw his face melt in shock… And
suddenly the sound came back on.

Behind me, the arm-grabber was screaming, “He’s got a knife! He’s got
a knife!”

Shyt-head and I took a careful step back from each other. Then
another. Then I took one more, turned and ran back to the bar,
screaming about a man with a knife — not realizing that my face was
pouring blood, flying behind me in drops and strings, drenching my
clothes, squishing in my shoe.

Drama, blanched faces, people frozen by shock — but behind my back,
two cute chubby poofters pulled themselves together, ran that crazy
sumbitch down and, unarmed but relentless, kept him penned up in a
dead end until the cops came by. (I’m told it takes balls to be a
queen. I agree.)

My testimony put him away. He was about to go free, even though this
was at least his 3rd such attack, until the judge asked if I had
anything to say. Once I finished, there was a long silence. The judge
sent him down.

He was out by my next birthday.

Let me reiterate: it didn’t matter who we were. He truly believed anti-
gay speech was a justification for murder.

It doesn’t matter who you are. It’s your issue, too. Nobody is immune
to the effects of hatred. Nobody is unkillable.

*The only way to make your world safer is to make hatred less
interesting, less acceptable, and less valid.* That’s it.

It’s astounding how much creative thought and social energy gets freed
up when that happens. Everyone blossoms — regardless of their own
bent. The most “normal” people remark on how good it is to feel so
free. Weird, unexpected, but true. I’ll dig up the studies about that.

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