Friday, April 29, 2005

The gods of rain 

I've always loved storms. The wind and the rain, the way my clothes are saturated and my socks squish as I walk, the violence and the gentleness, it's open to any gods I could imagine.

It's a violent sexuality that I was comfortable with at too early an age.

It's a fun run with friends, splashing and trying not to get splashed, a meaningless game since we were all soaked anyway.

It's a message from the gods that they could kill me and burn my house at any moment, even while spirits like those of my grandfather act to protect me from my own curiousity, curiousity that would have involved opening a door and creating a backdraft that could have killed me.

It's the feeling that I'm never really in love with someone unless I want to make out with them in a rainstorm.

It's a feeling a warmth and fuzzy socks as I sit inside and watch the trees fight invisible winds as the sky turns beautiful shades of gray.

It's the way that thunder still reminds me that my dogs saved my life, waking my parents up during our lightning-caused house fire, the way I pay attention to animals even if I can't yet interpret their messages.

And that's the stream of consciousness produced by reading an entry from a blogger I read at least weekly, Acid man.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

New book review 

New book review posted at CurledUp.com: Dirty, by Meredith Maran

Friday, April 22, 2005

Not good enough.

Your Travel Profile:

You Are Very Well Traveled in the Northeastern United States (71%)

You Are Well Traveled in Western Europe (57%)

You Are Well Traveled in the Southern United States (54%)

You Are Well Traveled in Africa (50%)

You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in Asia (33%)

You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in Southern Europe (33%)

You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in Australia (25%)

You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in the Middle East (25%)

You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in the Midwestern United States (25%)

You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in the United Kingdom (25%)

You Are Mostly Untraveled in Canada (20%)

You Are Mostly Untraveled in Eastern Europe (20%)

You Are Mostly Untraveled in the Western United States (5%)

You Are Untraveled in Latin America (0%)

You Are Untraveled in New Zealand (0%)

You Are Untraveled in Scandinavia (0%)

How Well Traveled Are You?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

memento mori 

I went to a wedding this weekend on the shores of Massachusetts.

I've long tried to keep from falling in love with New England. It's beautiful and historic and charming and so American, but politically I wouldn't fit in and I refuse to live under their laws. So the relationship wouldn't work, and I try not to fall in love.

It's hard.

We were on the coast, in a town with a news stand, a church, lots of bakeries, and a closed library. Our room had drapes that completely enclosed the bed and wooden shutters. The rough wood furniture had flat splinters that bit at my sweater as I sat at the desk to write. The whole room, the whole town, felt timeless.

The wedding was beautiful. I don't want to bore anyone with details, or share more details about the bride and groom than they would want, so I will leave it at that. The interesting story starts at dinner, anyway.

I was seated with my fiance and 8 or 9 people I didn't know. One would later turn out to be a girl my fiance had almost dated as a teenager and hadn't seen since. That was neat.

I was feeling, as I often do in groups, shy and skittish. The conversation turned to the problems left-handed people face and how sometimes the problem of living in a right-handed world will get a left-handed person killed. My fiance offered as an example the M-16. "It's built for right-handed people," he explained. "The ejector is on the right, so normally the spent casing flies away from the shooter. For lefties, they attach a deflector shield to keep the casing from flying in their faces. But sometimes the deflector sends the casing back into the ejector port. And if you fire again, the rifle is blocked and it can explode." New information to most at the table. Further conversation about paying attention to where the spent casings go and the risk of death if you don't.

Then one of the other girls makes a smart-aleck remark. She said, "If they were smart, they wouldn't have entered the army anyway."

I didn't know what to say. I retreated further. I felt like she had just insulted my whole family, or my uncles and grandfathers at least. And me, too, since almost all my volunteer work is devoted to supporting the troops by sending them care packages and email. And I felt she was snide and ignorant, since many of my troops are college-educated and write well, better than the college students she and the other teachers had been complaining about earlier.

We let it pass.

In retrospect, I wish I'd asked, "How many people do you know in the armed forces?" and maybe, hopefully, started a dialogue that would get her to realize that our servicemembers are not stupid. They're sacrificing a great deal, and risking the ultimate sacrifice, for our country. They have no control over where they are deployed. They just know that they may miss the birth of their son, or their daughter's first steps, or their father's 50th birthday party, but they serve anyway.

I drank a silent toast.

Monday, April 11, 2005


What time is it? 2
Name as it appears on birth certificate: Janine
Piercing: one in right ear, two in left
Eye color: hazel
Place of birth: Tennessee
Favorite food: blueberries
Ever been to Africa? yes, twice
Favorite clothing? baby doll T-shirt, open long-sleeve silk shirt, baggy cargo pants
Ever been toilet papering? no
Have you ever had a speeding ticket? yes
Been in a car accident? yes
Favorite day of the week: Saturday
Favorite restaurant: Dynasty Dim Sum in New Jersey
Favorite flower: lily or iris or orchid
Favorite sport to watch: martial arts or women's beach volley ball
Favorite drink: diet Coke
Favorite fast food restaurant: KFC
What color is your bedroom carpet? beige
How many times did you fail your driver’s test? none
Favorite perfume: Jope
What do you do most often when you are bored? take photographs
Bedtime? ugh
What is your favorite color? blue gray
How many tattoos do you have? none
Have you ever run out of gas? no
What is the last book you read? unknown, since I'm contstantly reading more than one at a time. Probably On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.

Monday, April 04, 2005


A babysitter gave me coca-cola for the first time when I was about 6 mo. My parents were at his parents' place, and he was "watching" me. The poor boy was about 12, and my mom told him that once I was down for the night, I never woke up.

The exception proves the rule. I woke up the one night mom wasn't there.

So the poor boy didn't know what to do with this screaming baby, couldn't reach over the top of the crib to pick me up, and decided (in his infinite wisdom) to give me something to drink. He found a bottle easily enough. And a can of coke.

My parents came home to see him reaching through the bars of my crib, holding a bottle full of coke for me. I drank it all, and passed out.

To this day, caffeine knocks me out.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Secrets on postcards 

It's late. Or early. Everything spirals.

I turned in a story on local gold mining - that was a lot of fun to research and write. I did my first "real" interview and it went great, I think because I was genuinely interested in hearing all the stories he'd collected.

Speaking of collecting stories... this web page haunts me. I used to walk the streets of the sity and the halls of my college and collect notes people had dropped. If there were identifying information, I'd return what I found, but there never was.

So I'd read about love and hate and bad fathers and brothers who drove you crazy. And I'd walk the campus, looking at the cheerful and controlled faces, and wonder what strories were inside.

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