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Feb. 21st, 2017

An odd trolley problem: for LJ Idol

This week's topic is "Trolley Problem."

Being a gay man of a certain age, I immediately thought of Judy Garland singing The Trolley Song when I read that.

And the song got stuck in my head all day on Friday, which was a problem because I was trying to accomplish things at work.

For example:

Me (to myself): Okay, I need to proofread this...
Subconscious: CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! WENT THE TROLLEY!
Me (to myself): Come on! It's a grant propos--
Sub: DING! DING! DING! WENT THE BELL!
Me: But this has to get d...
Sub: ZING! ZING! ZING! WENT MY HEARTSTRINGS!
Me: I hate you so much right now.

The song just kept running through my head on an endless loop. It was so frustrating. It got worse when I received a phone call from purchasing.

Me: Hello!
Purchasing Person: We have questions about the t-shirts.
Me: I thought we worked out the budget issues.
PP: We did, but...
Sub: CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! WENT THE TROLLEY!
Me: Could you repeat that?
PP: Did you get...
Sub: DING! DING! DING! WENT THE BELL!
PP: And we...
Sub: ZING! ZING! ZING! WENT MY HEARTSTRINGS!
Me (trying to fake it): I though I gave you all the documentation...
PP (a little annoyed, and at the same time as below): blahblahblah artwork blahblahblah
Sub: FROM THE MOMENT I SAW HIM I FELL!
Me: Wait. you need the artwork? Why?
PP: (sounds like Miss Othmar from the Charlie Brown cartoons)
Sub: CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! WENT THE TROLLEY!
Me (still trying to fake it): I don't have the artwork, but I'll get it and send it to you.
PP: (I'm sure he said something here.)
Sub: DING! DING! DING! WENT THE BELL!
Me: Do me a favor. Could you e-mail me your concerns, so I can pass them on to my boss?
PP: Sure.

At this point, I put my headphones on and hit shuffle, in an attempt to drive The Trolley Song out of my head with other music.

Sadly, this did not work. It just created some awfully strange mashups.

For instance, Head like a Hole by Nine Inch Nails and The Trolley Song, which went like this:

CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! WENT HEAD LIKE A HOLE!
BLACK AS YOU WENT THE BELL!

That was just confusing.

This was no better:

When you're WENT THE TROLLEY!
CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! Feeling small..

(Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge over Troubled Water)

Judy Garland completely overpowered Simon and/or Garfunkel and it made even less sense than the first mash-up.

Then, Queen's song, Killer Queen came on:

SHE KEEPS HER MOET AND CHANDON IN THE TROLLEY!
Zing! ZING! ZING! JUST LIKE MARIE ANTOINETTE!

Oddly, this mashup worked, though it still did not drive the song out of my brain.

So, I just gave up, and spent the rest of the day with that damned Trolley Song going through my head.
Tags: ,

Feb. 10th, 2017

dino head

For LJ Idol: No Comment

One day, I was meeting a few friends and fellow grad students at a coffee shop to go over notes for a particularly difficult class.

Danielle, one of the members of our little study group, walked over with her coffee just as I was getting out my notes. She had this stricken look on her face, and I could tell we were not going to get much studying done.

Classmate: Danielle, what's wrong?
Danielle: Steve (her fiancé) cheated on me.
Everyone at the table: That's awful.
Danielle: I just don't know what to do.
Clasmate2: Well, we're here for you.

--- The whole "let's console Danielle" thing continued for a few minutes. I was silent.

Danielle (turning to me): Don't you have anything to say?
Me: Nope. Everyone else said it better than I could.
Danielle: I can see that you want to say something.
Me: You've known me for two years. I always want to say something. But I'm not going to.
Danielle: Everyone else is being so supportive...
Me: Do not push. You do not want me saying anything right now.
Danielle (getting more upset): I just want you to be honest.
Me: Okay. Here goes. This is the third? fourth? time that he's cheated on you. I'm not sure you get to be surprised about it anymore.
Danielle: I...
Me: You know he's going to. He's made that abundantly clear. Why are you still with him?
Danielle: He said it was an accident.
Me: AN ACCIDENT? Did he trip and fall into her vagina? I admit that I'm gay and, therefore, don't know, but I'm pretty sure that that isn't how straight people have sex.
Danielle: We're in love!
Me: With each other? Because I'm not convinced. I don't think he has any respect for you.
Danielle: I...
Me: And I'm not sure what you get out of this relationship. Is being alone that scary?
Danielle: I... you... (she picked up her things and walked away)
Classmate: That was... unpleasant.
Me: (shrugging) I told her not to push.

Danielle and I made up about a week later. She also forgave Steve, who cheated on her again a few months later. She knew better than to ask me how I felt about it.

She eventually went to Belgium (I think) in one of the university's graduate exchange programs, and we completely lost touch.

Jan. 31st, 2017

wtf, eyes

For LJ Idol -- Where I'm from

I'm from what was a small mill town in Western Pennsylvania. Seriously, when I was a kid, there was a steel mill about six blocks away from my house.

The mill is long gone now, but that's not what this is about.

I was in grad school, talking with a friend, when the subject of small town living came up.

Friend: I want to work in college town.
Me: I guess. I kind of prefer to work in a city, though.
Fr: I just like small town life... don't you?
Me: Not really. I got enough of that growing up...
Fr: I mean, everyone knowing everyone else...
Me: And always being all up in your business...
Fr: Neighbors being nice to one another...
Me: To their faces, anyway...
Fr: the calmness of your surroundings...
Me: The stifling feeling of nothing happening...
Fr: Everyone feeling like a real community...
Me: As long as you fit in...
Fr: And nothing out of the ordinary happens...
Me: No, no. You just aren't looking. Take my town for instance.
Fr: Okay.
Me: Kids in my town would either party at the local garbage dump or out in the abandoned train cars by the old steel mill.
Fr: Did you ever do this?
Me: No. I didn't get along with most of the neighbor kids, and, honestly, A DUMP? I have standards.
Fr: Still... that's not so bad.
Me: I'm not done. Frequently, they would start fires, to keep warm.
Fr: Still..
Me: The fire department wouldn't go out to investigate, at least partially because some of the firemen were running a prostitution ring out of the firehouse.
Fr: Come on!
Me: But it was just young women... if your taste ran to guys, well, THEY in the old union workers' building about two blocks away.
Fr: ... I...
Me: It has been my experience that just about everything that happens in the big, bad city happens in small towns. It's just that no one talks about it in small towns, so everyone can pretend.
Fr: I still think that small towns are better.
Me: That's cool. Just leave me out.

My friend did end up getting a job at a college in the Midwest somewhere, and, as for me, I ended up in THE big, bad American city, NYC.

Jan. 23rd, 2017

dino head

For LJ Idol -- Heel Turn

As those who read my blog regularly know, I am gay. My family knows, but we don't discuss it, because it would bring shame on them or something...

Well, back when Obergefell v. Hodges went before the Supreme Court, the more liberal members of my family would discuss it with me, but the more conservative members would not.

Except one.

My brother who still firmly believes that all LGBT people are mentally ill.

After he had posted some ugly stuff on Facebook, which I called hom out for and then blocked him over, my brother called me.

Brother: It's obvious that (tone of voice as if say something disgusting) gays and lesbians shouldn't get married.
Me: What? How so?
Bro: Well, the church...
Me: The church has nothing to do with this. Lots of people get married without any religious service.
Bro: Yes... but... marriage is a religious matter. Period.
Me: Then why can judges marry people?
Bro: Look... marriage is only about reproduction.
Me: So, by your argument, married couples should be FORCED to reproduce. How many years should they have?
Bro: No...
Me: So that after, say, five years, they should be forced to divorce? And what of infertile people... or post-menopausal women?
Bro: But they're straight couples, so the potenital is always there...
Me: And plenty of gay couple have kids...
Bro: They shouldn't.
Me: Why not? Gay folks will do a better job than many of straight people I know.
Bro: Look, marriage is for reproduction. Anyone who thinks otherwise is stupid.
Me: (dangerously) So... I'm stupid.
Bro: Yes.
Me: What does that make you?
Bro: Excuse me?
Me: I am fluent in three languages and can read another six. I am capable of intelligently discussing anything from politics to many of the sciences. YOU peaked in high school and can't successfully hold down a job.
Bro: Listen to me...
Me: No, you listen, I am done.

And then I hung up. We did not talk for about two years or so.I just turned and walked away(metaphorically speaking). I was fine with this, though my mom and my sisters were not.

That my sisters tried to interfered bothered me. They had stopped speaking to our brother regularly years ago, because they would get into fights with him. But I was supposed to maintain contact.

We did eventually start talking to one another when I was briefly hospitalized. He called me... but he never apologized, and I'm not about to, either. We now talk very occasionally.

Am I thrilled about it? No. But I'm sure we'll piss one another off soon, and then turn and walk away again.

Jan. 5th, 2017

dino head

For LJ Idol -- Finding closure at a pub

Longer ago than I care to admit, one (let's call her "Joanie") of my friends was sleeping with her best friend's fiancé (let's use "Carla" and "Matt").

This came to light after the wedding, and a tremendous amount of drama ensued.

Before this all happened, a bunch of us (between fifteen and twenty, depending on the week) would go to a local Irish pub on Thursdays, because they had Irish musicians in every week.

After the cheating news broke (which is another painfully stupid story), the married couple stopped going for a few months. I'm not sure if they went another night, or what.

Anyway, one night, they decided that they were going to the pub, because the wife "needed closure".*

I immediately knew that this was a Very Bad Idea. Wildly dysfunctional people, Irish music, alcohol, and feelings of betrayal are not the flavors that one typically uses to make a Serenity Stew.

While most folks went to the pub, to enjoy the music/witness the carnage, I decided to stay home. I knew that I would have to deal with the trauma afterward, so I just made a lunch date with Joanie for the next day.

Well, the scene at the pub was a shitshow. It started with cold stares, and angrily-mumbled comments, but, by the end of the first set of Irish music AND lots of alcohol, the wife and Joanie started screaming at one another, and Carla slapped Joanie.

So, Joanie and I had a lot to talk about the next day.

Joanie: ... and then she slapped me.
Me: *sigh* I tried to tell them that this was a bad idea...
Joanie: And I saw how Matt was flirting with Rowan**. If he's sleeping with her...
Me: I don't think he is...
Joanie: Well, if he is, after all the Hell I've been through over him... I'd just probably go crazy and kill them both. Then, I'd go to jail and no one would ever see me again.
Me: (thinking to myself): I know I should say something supportive here, but I don't know what...
Me: (out loud): I wouldn't worry about it. If anyone can cop a plea of diminished capacity right now, it's you.***
Joanie: (stricken look)...
Me: (Realizing what I said): I mean that in the best possible way.

Lunch was very uncomfortable after that.

Joanie is now married with a child of her own. Matt and Carla are still together with two children. I know this from mutual friends, because I no longer speak to any of them.
_________________
*Honestly, in cases like this, people don't normally want closure. They want the last word, which is a very different thing.
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**They weren't flirting. At the time, they (and their partners) were just spending a lot of time together.
_________________
*** Honestly, I was trying to be helpful. There are reasons why friends have told me that "No one turns to (me) for comfort."
_________________

Dec. 31st, 2016

dino head

A grave situation-- for LJ Idol

Tales of dysfunction and why I don't forgive.Collapse )

Dec. 30th, 2016

roll eye

A discussion about family, for LJ Idol

I share a last name with a famous person from my hometown, and this led to the following discussion with my boss and a colleague.

Boss: Well, we know you have money. After all., your last name...
Me: No, I'm not related to him.
Boss: (teasing) You can tell us...
Me: If I was related to him, I wouldn't be working HERE.
Boss: Yeah, that makes sense.
Co-worker: Sure you would...
Me: No... that family has enough pull to get me a teaching position there. Sadly, my father's people are drunken white trash from New Jersey.
Co: You shouldn't call anyone trash.
Me: You're not related to them.
Co: Besides, they can't all be drunks...
Me: Man, you've lived a sheltered life.
Boss: SEAN!
Me: Though, in this case, you're right. They weren't all drunks. My Uncle John was a heroin addict. Because someone has to keep things fresh.
Co: That's probably the coldest thing I've ever heard someone say...
Me: These are people who, after my father's death, walked out* my mother and the four of us. I don't really even consider them family. They're more "people I have the misfortune of sharing genetic traits with."
Co: That's...
Me: They abandoned us when my mom was thirty, and we were eight, seven, six, and three. I will call those assholes whatever I Goddamned well please.

After an awkward silence, we started discussing plans for an upcoming conference.
___________
*This is a massive understatement. Kitty, my father's mother, basically stalked us for about a year. Among other things.

___
This is for the topic Sang Froid, for LJ Idol. I decided to interpret it literally.

Don't stand out -- you're just one of us. For LJ Idol.

Family love!Collapse )
wtf, eyes

Death has a birthday party -- for LJ Idol

Death, accompanied by cakeCollapse )

Dec. 15th, 2016

dino head

LJ Idol: Brushback

When my parents got married, my father was in the armed services, so, my mom, at eight months pregnant with my eldest sibling had to move. My father's parents lived near the base, so they lived there until he could get housing.

My father's mother, Kitty, was.. um... how do I put this delicately?... a paranoid, delusional, alcoholic asshole.

That covers it.

Kitty firmly believed that my father was destined to be a Catholic priest, and kept right on believing that until after the third child was born*.

So, Kitty never liked my mother. As a result, this was going to be a tense time for everyone.

Well, Kitty walked into my parents' bedroom while mom was unpacking. At this point, mom was putting clothes away, including my father's underwear.

Kitty was horrified... HORRIFIED... that my mom was touching her son's undergarments.

At first, mom was surprised. I mean, really, of all the things to freak out about... Kitty chooses THIS?

Then, she tried to reason with Kitty. Have you ever tried to reason with someone who was drunk? If so, ou already know that it didn't go well.

That night, Kitty (and my grandfather) hosted a party, so the neighborhood could meet their daughter-in-law.

During the entire party, Kitty kept making snide remarks about my mom handling dad's underwear.

Mom laughed it off the first time, then warned Kitty to drop the subject.

Kitty did not. She said it one too many times, and my mom finally looked at her and said, "I am eight months pregnant with your son's baby. I PROMISE you I've touched far more than just his underwear."

Mom said this loudly enough for everyone to hear.

Kitty never discussed the subject again.

A little public embarrassment can go a long way.
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*Kitty later convinced herself that none of us were her grandchildren, but that's another story.

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