Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

Book Review: “The Kid” by Dan Savage

July 30, 2020

For those not familiar with ‘alternative newspapers’,  many major cities have weekly papers that post about local culture. to fill out copy, they buy syndicated columns. Dan Savage is a gay man who answers questions about sex, both gay and straight, in his weekly column, Savage Love’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savage_Love

He’s a really funny guy. Who are you going to ask about sex and kinks and sex issues if not him?  He does his research.  he’s also written about half a dozen books.  I find him insightful, funny, and easy to read.

The Kid is about his adventure into adopting a child.  He and his partner chose open adoption because they felt it would be easier than a closed adoption, less expensive than a foreign adoption,less complicated than an informal arrangement with a woman who wanted to bear a child,  and he saw no reason to not have the birth mother of his child present in his child’s life.

He discusses all of this in his book, starting with how he met his partner, Terry, in a gay bar: why he was attracted to him, and how they started living together.  his biggest qualm with Terry is that Terry likes techno dance music, especially in the car. Dan hates it.  but he says that what ‘sealed the deal’ for him after a two-day lovefest was Terry’s excitement at Dan bringing him a book by Gore Vidal (United States) he wanted to read.A committed monogamous relationship developed, and they started discussing having a family.

Dan addresses that he was approached by lesbian friends and he writes they never got it together, One par ir split up.  he discussed this with a lawyer friend who had done an open adoption with his wife, and Dan and Terry decided that would be the way for them to go.

They live in Seattle, but the adoption agency was in Portland, Oregon, so they make a trip to scope out what they have to do. The adoption agency has no issues with gay couples, and Dan  & Terry are told that they will stand out in a book of prospective parents because they are not the typical white bread Christians that most of the couples are. Dan is skeptical, but within 6 weeks,  after getting their paperwork to the agency, they are chosen, and the birth mother is about  6 months along in her pregnancy. She’s a homeless  ‘gutter punk’ who chooses to live on the street, but who knows she can’t care for a baby. She doesn’t care that Dan and Terry are gay. Apparently, she likes other aspects of how they describe themselves, and that Terry will be the stay-at-home dad.

Dan also describes his relationship with his parents, with Terry’s parents,  coming out and ruminating over what he wants in his life, what to name ‘the kid’, and whether to circumcise or baptize him.  and is funny every step of the way.   I might say you’d never know Dan was gay unless he told you. He’s a writer who knows he can help people make decisions by giving them the information they might not be able to find otherwise.

Anyone  even considering adoption, or anyone who wants to read a story  by someone who  looks at his life seriously, but with humor, will enjoy The Kid,

 

Why Black Lives matter Should mean something Even if Your’re White

July 16, 2020

When you live in an urban, cosmopolitan area, you  tend to think racism isn’t quite so bad…and then you read this:
The link:https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/2020/07/06/iowa-racism-why-small-town-values-cauldron-brews-bigotry/5382064002/?fbclid=IwAR0wUgd6retvK7iWqzedpTtnFmkwgF_wp35unK2RADXQ3ZXaWV9JJc8VA80

The gist:

Via Eric Zorn >>>17-year-old Jeremiah Chapman of Charles City went to play for his high school at Waverly-Shell Rock and, as he manned center field, received a cascade of racist bile from WSR fans. The local racists shouted that Chapman should suffer the same fate as George Floyd, a man prosecutors say was murdered by Minneapolis police on suspicion of a misdemeanor crime, and, even worse, that he should “go back to the fields.”

Really try to get that. The assailants not on

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There is an absolute correlation between insisting you live in utopia and demonizing people for pointing out hard realities that it’s not.
I remember when  Pres. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.  I remember when Diann Carroll played a nurse on a TV show called “Julia”— and it was revolutionary that she wasn’t a maid—but an educated professional.     & while my mother actively promoted highlighting accomplishments of minorities and loved Ernie Banks….she didn’t want to live with ‘those’ people’.  Just 30 years ago, my father told me he’d rather I be a prostitute than date a Ph.D, candidate from Zambia.   I’m sure he felt it was just rebelliousness that two of my cousins married Black American men,  Never mind that both have long marriages (so far). could it be that shared value played a part?
I’ve had relationships with African (Kenyan, Tanzanian, Senegalese, and Zambian)men, as well as a couple of African-American men.  What broke us up was a lack of shared values and interests, not race.
  I have visited rural America, and when people don’t know you’re a Jew,  They go on and on about Jesus, and often make racist comments.    You don’t want to start an argument…you just swallow it and move on…but can we afford to move on anymore?
The white folks jeering Jeremiah Chapman— I bet all are churchgoers. & this is why I just can’t take Christianity seriously.  I feel sorry for all the people of color who believe in the same Jesus, and think it will all work out in the end.  Unfortunately, the same Jesus my friends of color pray to will forgive the racists.  You have to see believing  and faith doesn’t make any sense.
& then there are people like me—with a moral compass,  but no relationship with God.  Our beliefs are based on what is right & fair—not what will be rewarded in heaven.  We’re still in the minority.  Remember what Marx said:  “Religion is the opiate of the masses’.
When I hear about incidents like this one, where a teenager is jeered, I know it is a status thing. the bullies really think their shit doesn’t stink.  I wish our Congress would vote as much money for science education as they do for the military.  We can’t have people thinking it  is ok to be racist.

The Difference Between Boys and Girls:

June 11, 2020

 

 

 

Prototype cover without the dogs & title.

We are slowly returning to the new normal in the metro Chicago area. At the kennel, we have clients—like the old man who saw the note on the door (we saw him from our security cameras) about not coming into the lobby but calling us to come out to fetch the dog (we’re in stage 2 of Covid19 new reality), but who came in anyway.  You know the guy:  old, bald, wearing baggy shorts but he has chicken legs…and those who won’t come in and want to know if we wash our hands after every dog & are wearing masks inside, and if they have to rewash their dog when they get it home (you know, because of ‘germs’…). We have all had it.  There’s a lot going on, and we still don’t know if the kennel business can survive.

In times of stress, I turn to Freddie  Mercury:  this particular vocal performance, and the images his bandmates chose with videographers to pander to the fans:  Roger Taylor’s clear blue eyes, Freddies many changing looks over time. 

I also love this: a piece:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikLqfiOKX5Q  Liz Storey doing her ‘Toy Soldiers’, also new age & soulful.

This online dating thing it’s replaced dog training for the time being. I’ve been corresponding with several men who may or may not be scammers ( or are not who they  say they are in some way.  So many mining engineers. There must be a scammers template somewhere…)  All are foreign-born but now legal residents (so they say) and all are entrepreneurs. I addressed this in my last blog post.

 I am picky. I want what I want. I do not have to settle:  I invented the sexiest, patient, most talented man in the world. I don’t need a man to take care of me. I want a companion who is good in bed who I enjoy looking at. I’ve never really had the kind of ‘shared interests’ relationship with a man. My ex-husband a long time ago was the last.  Shared interest was our left of center politics.   The bottom line, I do not intend to be sexual with a man working against my best interests—-who supports Christianity & makes excuses for it & tries to justify why he’s Christian but doesn’t believe…whatever. I want someone who shares my political leanings and interests. My masters is in public policy! Of course, I have an opinion!

I want to get lost in dark eyes. I’ve looked into blue eyes.  I want facial hair and body hair. I want my lover to feel like an adult. If all those girls told you they wanted you shaved, where are they now?

 You’ve got to weed out thousands of guys with a series of screening questions and consider physical chemistry, and the location is important. All these guys always want to get to know you via writing–the internet.   I know from experience ( because Craig and I corresponded for 2 years) there is nothing that replaces being physically together.    Our interests diverged, and I realized he didn’t handle money the same way I did. That was as serious as any other issue. a  But we had been together physically. It wasn’t like I was writing to a stranger. For some reason, there is this phenomenon that they immediately think they love you before we have ever met, and that is extremely disturbing to me.

So, these guys, who are now, of course, stuck outside the country (& isn’t the whole Covid19 excuse perfect for the resident alien not being let back in to the USA by Trump), couldn’t possibly really think they’re in love, could they?   A few guys have pitched for an emotional commitment, almost as though they are looking for a mail-order bride. This guy wanted me to trust him–on faith alone. I had to remind him that I had none—this doesn’t work for me.  I guess, however, it works often enough.

Well, maybe I should not be so skeptical …so I have to put a time limit on this separation due to whatever bad luck thing is the cause.  I have time to address religion, financial stability, and yes, sexual expectations. I have to quickly determine what they want, and if they understand what I want, so I have to ask many very personal questions to directly get to what I want.  If you have read my past blogs, you know the Muse was very entertaining over the phone and by text.  He was so detailed in what he wanted.  The idea, when we met, that he told me he didn’t actually expect me to do any of it…just broke my heart.  He didn’t understand the difference between fantasy and reality and was willing to go with fantasy until it became a reality. And clearly, all these correspondents find me entertaining.  THAT IS NOT REALITY!

Here’s the difference between boys and girls: girls respect boundaries.   Because I respect my roommate’s boundaries, we’ve lived together in relative peace for about 20 years.

Lots of men don’t understand the concept of platonic.   Nor do they understand responsibility or integrity. The quarantine is over & now it’s time to meet, and see if there is chemistry. If they can’t give me a time frame, I have to start over. 

Update:  1 of these guys, who lost his wallet and says he can’t get a new credit card (he has internet access but can’t find a phone…LOL) has finally—after about 4 weeks, asked for money.

 

 

 

 

Ad for Polyandress

June 10, 2020

What does it mean to act with integrity? Is it telling the truth? Being fair? Being accountable to your community?

 Daler an engineer who falls into being a rock star is sure he’s in love, but Amara, a dog groomer and trainer, is more pragmatic. Their lives are so different. They meet again while Amara is mentoring an athlete who thinks he wants to breed dogs.

 

I’ve Kissed Way Too Many Frogs…..

May 15, 2020

A waste of masculinity.

I’ve been on various dating sites for about a year. I told myself I would give it a year…and the results have been worse than ‘not good’. They’ve been awful. It’s just with the internet, you meet more awful men more quickly. 

First of all…there are scammers: they steal photos off Google or Facebook, prowl (or troll, whatever term you prefer), find a mark, and they love you and you are just what they are looking for. It’s easy to spot them: their English is either very bad or of the European English variety. They also profess love and pour out the same story: wife died, they have a teenage daughter. She is living with a relative in Europe, He came to America for work. Je doesn’t drink,  came upon your photo….& apparently, women believe this & without ever meeting them….send them money.

Some of them go to elaborate procedures, but they don’t realize that there are ways to determine who is real. In Chicago, everyone lives in a neighborhood. If you don’t know your neighborhood (or the default is ‘downtown’), forget it. Then, they seem to forget that you can google & reverse lookup phone numbers. 1 idiot actually gave a phone number to an escort service.

The scammers are not the worst. The worst are the men who just look at photos and don’t read your profile. They just see boobs. Then there are the guys who pose with grandchildren, a dog, or a fish they caught.  I don’t know you. I don’t want to see your grandkids, and if the dog isn’t a sighthound, well, I’m glad you’re a dog lover, but that’s not enough.  Especially if you have some sort of designer dog. Please, no. Not into fishing, either.

There are always men who don’t think your values should be of any concern. Some will tell you straight out they are stepping out on their (sick) wives. Lots of guys looking for friends with benefits, but they offer no benefits.

How was it before the internet? Most of my friends know that I met my husband in high school. We were together maybe 8 weeks before his parents moved across the country, and we corresponded. Craig was very sexually adventurous. I would have never learned to engage in oral sex were it not for him. I really believe that you have to start young, as a teenager, or you become too inhibited. If I can thank him for anything, I can thank him for that. I barely dated and certainly didn’t engage in anything intensively sexual for most of the rest of high school until we were together on holidays. I just didn’t meet that many guys worth the bother.

When we were living together, I came very close to cheating a couple of times, but it didn’t happen.  He did, though. & then we were divorced. When I finally met Tony, I thought things would get better. Tony was great, but he told me right from the start that he was recently divorced and not prepared for a ‘relationship’, and it was clear he was juggling women. I didn’t like it, but 2 can play. When he invited me to Robert’s sauna (he had hired Robert to give lectures at the museum), he practically handed me over to him.    He said I had no sense of propriety. As though it was proper to display me to a colleague.  He then, without my permission, gave my phone number to Robert, and I started seeing Robert.  Robert was nothing great, but he wasn’t Tony, and he was appreciative. In fact, the first time we had sex, he asked me to leave the lights on because—he told me—I was the most beautiful woman he had ever been with.   Yeah, I was really a hot babe when I was young.  Tony got angry with me for spending time with Robert. I thought things then would be better with Tony (He actually said to me, “You know how I feel about you.” What a joke. What I knew was he was ambivalent and didn’t care.). I learned I wasn’t wrong because he went to see his parents over Christmas, and THEN, New Year’s Eve, went with his friends. Not with me.    We could have gone to both parties! He didn’t want a date at a party. Is that not clear?

Should I list all the bad experiences? Going out to dinner with guys I knew I had nothing in common with and wasn’t attracted to at all. Friends remember Les, who came to take me out to dinner (he had volunteered to be an ESL tutor for my project) and then felt he was so lucky that I was ‘so beautiful’ that we never got out the door. We didn’t go to eat. I just listened to him say how lucky he was….for two hours. Les was an adjunct. Not a bad looking guy. He wanted to be an actor and a comedian and still lived ‘in the family home’—with his parents.

Mark, whom my tenant, Al, introduced me to as divorced….was not even separated from his wife. He was so funny. I continued to see him for the funny even though I would not be sexual with him.

Then more single dates…  lots of aggressive men who really believe they will give you a good time( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNEX0fbGePg )until Jon, the mass communications major who couldn’t think what to say to me. He was also so attractive, and I seduced him…but…nothing. Then a few people remember Chisanga. He was a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Northwestern. I met him at the African students’ party (after Mawba committed suicide—that was a shocking and rough time…end of 1985). African men: you can’t teach them anything. I went through a series of them. They have no idea what they’re doing, They develop bad habits when young and apparently a lot of women let them get away with it. Then James….another total waste of time. He set up the boundaries early. We always had plenty to talk about, but he knew exactly what he wanted and didn’t want.

Amadou…thanks to Baidoo, I let that go on way too long. I think we had sex twice. What was going on in his mind? He wanted to be self-employed but was just too stupid. That’s the truth. He used to steal from me. He thought I didn’t know. After 3 months, I just refused to see him. What was really funny was that after we hadn’t seen each other in several months, I came home 1 day to a message on the answering machine. His car had broken down somewhere on I-80 & he wanted me to pick him up. I had been out most of the day, so I have no idea when he called…or where he was—not that I would have gone to fetch him. He used up all that goodwill. Baidoo told me I was wrong, but when Amadou stole from Baidoo’s girlfriend, he believed me.

When Kunihiro came to live with me, I thought I had hit the jackpot. What a sweet man. But I learned he was from the generation of Japanese men known to be part of sekkusu shinai shokogun. For whatever reason, they have found that dealing with women for sex is such a fraught experience, that they don’t do it. What a waste of physical masculinity! But—-and this is what is very important—-because I like him so much as a person, I respect his boundaries and we have lived together in relative peace for over 20 years. Who would have believed it?

Not to lose hope, I wanted a sex life after writing my own erotic fantasy, so I joined all these dating sites and ended up actually meeting—–face-to-face— 5 men. I Iranian guy who just wanted a regular lay but although he lived near Wrigley, he wouldn’t come up to Rogers Park. 1 guy was a sapiophile who had gotten himself into so much debt I didn’t think he’d ever recover, as funny and smart as he was. 1 guy not only did not read my profile, he lied about it. His photo had to be way over 10 years old or retouched, and he was Catholic. Catholic! What a waste of time! The Iranian guy in his 30’s, who lived across the street. How sweet to be told that I didn’t look that old, but he was worse than any 14-year-old boy I had ever encountered. What an asshole. After pretty much attacking me—I did not allow rape to happen, he had the nerve the next day to ask to see me again! Then George, several weeks ago who told me a guy owned him several hundred dollars and he was having trouble collecting. He was also a professional poker player, but he paid his rent in cash. He had no credit cards, no savings, no nothing. Just what I need. I was pleasant.  I practice being pleasant because my friends know that I have a low threshold for bullshit.

This handsome young guy, whose photo I stared at forever, came across my feed.   I just said to myself, “A shame, too young.”  Then he messaged me because he wants steady and regular sex with a woman my age. But he told me his boundaries quickly:  nobody spends the night, he never spends the night. Yet he wants to be told he is loved. I had nothing to lose. We actually had a text ‘discussion’ (oh, the modern world) about…body hair.  He texted me that he was ready for me last week. I texted him to not shave (I  like a guy with facial hair. Like someone told Freddie Mercury,” I don’t date a guy who doesn’t have a mustache…”).  He told me he had shaved his body.  OMG…why?  He said it’s for hygiene, …and girls like it.  Not this girl. This girl wants her sex partner to look, feel, and smell like an adult.    How often do I turn to Freddie dancing around with light on his chest hair? (FYI—a good glimpse :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCbxTTW_B0A   2:01—2:05 & 4:54—5:00, 5: 50—5:24)?  So I put it to him plain:  I am making a lot of compromises to be with him under his terms, and for me, his body hair adds to my sexual experience.  I couldn’t believe we had to address this, but this was NOT a romance. This was a planned sexual encounter.  I guess I had to spell that out for him, too. He has set the terms and I acquiesced to his terms.  He wanted to be loved.   Maybe no other sexual partner has ever verbalized why she was unhappy, why she left, but I have no problem with this.  I have sought out, by elimination and not being overly descriptive in my profile online that I didn’t want a Christian—not only for the baggage that comes along with asking a deity for forgiveness but because I didn’t want a pasty European guy. But I also, in so many words, wanted a  partner who had experienced what I had experienced in society:  being an other.  Does he really think he’s been assimilated and accepted? Do these guys want him dating their sisters?  Clearly, he’s had enough profound disappointment to reach out to strangers….as I have.  On the 1 to 10 vulnerability scale, this is about a 4.   Allowing a woman to sleep with you, so you can so subconsciously smell and feel her all night, so when you wake up hard, you can reach for her and make love—have intercourse without talking, or wake up in the morning—hard—and have a woman ready for you…why would you avoid that? That’s love.  Telling a woman after you ejaculate that you love her.  That’s just immaturity.

I  had a feeling he was more talk than action. He really didn’t understand that the fantasies you have in your mind, or that you experience via media may not feel the same in real life.  He was so explicit.  Not going into lurid details now—I’m putting them into a book and have people pay to read it, but I did something he asked me to do, and he clearly wasn’t enjoying it.  When I asked him what was wrong, since he had asked for this, he said, “I never expected you to do it.”  To me, that is so sad.  & now he won’t talk to me because he is so embarrassed about failing me and takes full blame and we can’t talk it out anyway because it’s Ramadan.

But, although I didn’t nearly get what I had hoped for (-I could just tell by how he expressed himself that he was another ‘wrong planet’ emigre), there was something I can enjoy in my own fantasies;  the feel of his beard, his arms, and his chest.  He was the best thing I’ve felt in over 20 years.

Of course, I am not settling for that. I  hope in the future I will hear him on the phone again…but I am starting out now to cultivate the next victim.I’ve recently had text conversations with  4 men and have actually talked to three.   a

At least two are looking for marriage.  Like my Muse, I’m happy with my life, except for this one thing…

Polyandress

Integrity. What does it mean to act with integrity? Is integrity the same in Africa and the United States? Is it telling the truth? Being fair? Not doing harm? Being accountable to your community? Do lovers owe each other integrity? Do they owe integrity to those around them?

Daler, a Sikh teenager, and Amara, an American Jewess in her early twenties, met due to family connections. They are brought together when Daler is asked to escort Amara on a brief trip in Africa. Then, due to circumstances, they don’t see each other for twenty years. Daler an engineer who falls into being a rock star is sure he’s in love, but Amara, a dog groomer and trainer, is more pragmatic. Their lives are so different.

Amara sees herself as a polyandress, if not necessarily by choice.

Daler thinks they have something special…or do they? Will cultural differences define who they are to each other? Can their relationship work?

by Robyn Michaels

 


In stores now!


 
 

 

 

Day 20 + Covid19

April 17, 2020

Dali’s muse: Gala

Day 20 + Covid19

Day 20Today is Easter. I’m, hoping all the people who think social isolation is a waste of time & that if God wants them, it is their time—-go to church. Socialize with each other, and your families. Word is that there is a 14 day incubation period. So….. by the end of the month, whoever doubts the level of contagion will be infected, and either be very sick, die, or a carrier.

We have to start testing very soon. We can’t continue this way. Sure, we will probably all still have to be wearing masks for the foreseeable future, but we have to get back to work.

Everyone is feeling stressed and anxious. I decided I was willing to play the odds and go meet my Muse in his house out in corn country. We’ve both been asymptomatic, both been taking precautions, but when it came to actually meeting, me saying, “Ok, I will come to you and get this party started,” he got a pang of conscience and said he didn’t want to risk getting me sick.  I didn’t think he had it in him.  As things look, it will be the end of May before we can actually meet.  I would place a money bet.

This whole situation is a test of integrity, but also ingenuity. Ramadan starts in about 10 days. I have no idea how he addresses reflection to himself, but I am getting a better idea of how he really is. Just from what I can tell, he has Asperger’s. I guess it takes one to know one. He is very rigid in how he conducts his life. I am a creature of habit myself. It’s just that over the years, I’ve learned to pick my battles. so…

Today has never been a holiday for me. My most memorable Easter was almost 30 years ago, camping near Palombe (Malawi) with the VSO, and how they brought 2 cases of beer, meat, white bread, and white potatoes for a camping dinner and none of them had ever cooked over a fire. Then, it started raining at around 5:a.m.

Yesterday, Day 19, I ‘baked’ a little. Since I had mashed potato flakes and the other ingredients, I made mashed potato cookies. Ingredients include shredded coconut, so it’s like a rich macaroon.  Those came out well, but the ‘cheese straws” using filo dough did not come out.  The recipe steps were too many, the ingredients were way too few—  definitely needed more whipped eggs.  So I made dinner tonight and Kunihiro said it was better than last night, “those bread things with too much salt.”

I had no idea what he was talking about because I had made bulgar the day before that (Thursday?  Friday?), but I opened the cookie box forgetting I had put some of these things in the box, which came out more like fried papadum.  Then, I knew what he was talking about.   Are you, too, trying out all those recipes you never got around to?  Interesting how you can then discard them so quickly.

And then there’s my Muse, who is clearly overwhelmed and stressed because of course, his business has been busy as ever, and he’s gotten more customers but doesn’t have the assistance, and I know that neither of us wants a long-distance relationship. Whatever would be the point of that?  This isn’t ‘love’, this is an assignation.  Look it up—you can Google word definitions,.  But that’s what it is.  I am under no illusions, so here’s a story I heard long ago which always reminds me to bargain for what I want:  This woman is at a bar,  and a man comes in. He sees her and is interested.  He goes to her and introduces himself and after a few banal pleasantries, he asks her, “Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?”  She laughs and responds, “Sure!  Let’s go!”  But the guy then responds, “Well, would you sleep with me for $10?”  The woman becomes irate and she responds, “No!  What do you think I am?”  He says to her, “We know what you are, we’re just haggling over the price.”

Yes, I know what I am, I’m just haggling over the price. Tell me, many of you actually know me:  where am I going to find a hot young man at my age?  Someone who doesn’t have a zillion pounds of baggage. A healthy guy who is honest about what he wants.  A guy who understands responsibility.  A guy who can support himself.  A hot guy.

Day 21.  I’ve totally wasted today.  I didn’t get out of bed until almost  8,  and then I made a pot of steel-cut oatmeal that should last at least a few days. I  read the paper, took the dogs out for a decent walk, watched a couple of videos on Rudolph Nureyev, the ballet dancer, and now I really have to get back to marketing my book.  Wasted way too much time on Muhammad’s website looking at some of the videos of him.  Last night we spent an hour talking.  He said he wished we lived closer. That was something I addressed first when he contacted me.  I can tell by talking to him we are living in very separate realities. He said he can’t believe I want to give him a blow job. I won’t disabuse him of that until I actually see him. I just told him I would definitely teach him what I want, and my God I sure will.  He’s told me some of his fantasies, and he’s really not too far out there.  I won’t reveal them here (What I will do is ultimately write about them for pay). But he thinks like a guy, and  I’ll just have to work through that.  This is a guy who doesn’t eat fruits or vegetables.  That’s immature.  If I do only 1 thing for him besides giving him a blow job—-apparently the only thing missing from his life, I hope I can introduce healthy food into his diet. Not planning on changing him, but I hope to scare the living daylights out of him. The reason men over 45 need Viagra is their veins are clogged by a life of red meat-eating.

Day 22  half the day is gone. I am going to do marketing this afternoon.  I  wasted time listening to a free webinar on how to find the man of your dreams via dating, put on by a ‘Life coach”.    Finding love is the luck of the draw.  She made some good points, but anyone with half a brain could figure this out.  The last date I went on, about 2 months ago,  I went on because the guy lived nearby, his politics were progressive, he didn’t drink or smoke…and that was all we had in common.  He was my age and had NOTHING. He didn’t have credit cards because he had apparently abused his credit.  He did auto bodywork, and he lived from hand to mouth.  The reason I continue to pursue the Muse is that he owns a business (not one I would have ever even considered going into—selling tobacco produces), he owns his own house, doesn’t smoke or drink, and he knows what he wants.  Of course, actually meeting is probably weeks off. I know we won’t get together before Ramadan.

Anyways, I  went & did major shopping at Aldi’s this morning, because we were out of a lot of stuff:  olive oil, some frozen food, hummus,  guacamole, raisin bran.

I had a great discussion with my fellow groomer, Lee Chen last night.  Of course, her shop is closed, and she isn’t sure  she will reopen.  But someone saw her shop door open and called to see if she was really open. No, she was just cleaning everything with bleach & wanted t to dissipate it & not breathe it. Ok, to actual work now!

Days 23 & 24….Yesterday I spent several hours contacting dog clubs about my book—- Polyandress, and about their broken links to their parent clubs.  So many dog clubs have websites with no way to click a link to contact them. What’s the point of that?  It was tedious.  I also started editing some short stories that I hope to submit to publications, but they need so much work crafting.  My Muse suggested that we get together tomorrow.  He wants to find out if we really have actual physical chemistry. So do I.  I still can’t believe he wants a woman my age but I have nothing to lose.  Late yesterday my roommate told me he was going in to work. Since  My Muse had agreed to Friday, I  texted,  and in passing said Kunihiro was going to work.  So My Muse texted back that he could come and see me.  Why we can’t have a vocal conversation is beyond me at this point, but  I texted back that I have to be out of the house by 1, and will be busy until at least 8 I(a doctor’s appointment and  2 webinars), but if he arrived by 10 we’d have several hours.  He texted back that he was not driving in the morning. I assumed that was partly because of morning inbound traffic, but no, he was taking the day off & wanted to sleep in.  But since I assumed it was morning traffic, I responded, ‘But you want me to deal afternoon traffic.” So he texted back that he didn’t know I had planned for today, and let’s do Saturday instead, and that it was his mission to fulfill my fantasy Saturday.  I, again, asked him to please not shave anything, and he texted back about my ‘demands’. Joking, but still.  I woke up around 1, feeling so intently physical as though we had made love.  I was trembling.  I rarely have sex dreams. It’s the anticipation.  This is why we  have agreed to play the odds, but that’s what he said about Easter, and then he said he’d feel bad if I got sick.  All bets are off.  We haven’t gotten sick yet, it’s just him and me.

That addressed, my stepmother called and said my father was in the hospital. His breathing was labored.  This is old age and complications. Since the quarantine started, he’s been confined to his room at the nursing home, as have been all residents.  Like prison, to avoid transmission.  He is confined also to a wheelchair.  His circulation is bad due to inactivity as well as diabetes. We all die of something.  Nobody just dies.  But he’s not dead yet.  Also talked to my sister. Amazingly, they sold their house the first day it was on the market and have put a deposit on a home in Tennessee.  I’m sure life will be better—and cheaper, for her down there. The house showed amazingly well considering the rooms are generally small and the house is a bit dark, the layout is sort of not useful.  No matter.  My father knows he will probably never see my sister ever again.

 

Covid 19 & Climate Change

March 17, 2020

Well well well. I’ll just jump right in. It was probably around 1968 when I started becoming an environmentalist. The Viet Nam War was raging It was the hippie era. I wast 15-years-old and just getting a consciousness. I was questioning whether we were fighting communists in Viet Nam, why educational (& other infrastructure) services were so noticeably poorer in minority communities, and I was noticing how much packaging there is that gets thrown away. So we celebrated Earth Day with a small march and a gathering. Then, we got the EPA, and some environmental laws that slowly helped the environment heal, and things got better….slowly..

Except for being frugal and mindful, I didn’t do anything. I left my parents home a month after I turned 18, at the end of 1971. I learned to be an adult. I got a job and supported myself.

My parents were horrified that I didn’t go to college and that I learned to groom dogs, but my dream was to someday own a small boarding kennel where I could live, raise dogs, show dogs, and  hold small events like racing or performance matches. Nobody was recycling anything. In the industry I worked in, pet services (dog grooming, mostly), the most environmentally unaware people were running the businesses. Water running all day, lights on in rooms with enough ambient light for a dog (they aren’t reading, for crying out loud—& they remain calmer in low light!). Worse—-working with idiots who would never READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!!!!!. Why are you not diluting shampoo? Why are you not keeping an eye on that dog with a dryer on him? Why are you dumping dog hair on the floor when the trash bin is right here? Why sweep it up twice? Dog hair could be composted…so can dog shit, but in many cases, it doesn’t even go into the sewer system (where it belongs) but into a trash bin…and landfilled.

What happened was…. a friend asked me if I’d be on the board of a recycling station. It was a new idea. As my father said, “A cute hippie idea,” discounting the importance of actually doing something that needed to be done. But that’s how it was, around 1985. My friend, Judy Freeman, did a lot of work rounding up disparate people(I mean it: people who worked for religious-based non-profits, people from the Cambodian, Viet Namese, and Laotian communities). the Redemptorist Fathers gave us a grant, Ken Dunn, the father of recyclinh gave us the means to start out: he’d sell what we collected. We got a diversion credit for diverting cubic tons of waste from landfills. This–I might add, was part of the visionary thinking of those of us who wanted to move recycling forward: a city employee, and the members of the Chicago Recycling Coalition during the Harold Washington Administration in 1987.

I was on the board for several years, and several board members decided they wanted to remake the board, so, for various reasons, several of us were asked to resign and the project, Uptown Recycling Station, stayed in existence until about 2010. They had a good run. The fact of the matter is, that the city pretty much handed over the contract for recycling (mandated by EPA rules that we have some sort of program in place) to Waste Management. Yeah, we still recycle in Chicago…not even a ton of all the waste (‘comingled’) collected.

In the intervening years, I decided to attend college. I was over 30, and I wanted to return to Africa, and Africa certainly didn’t need dog groomers. I took CLEP exams and got 2 years of college credit, and ended up majoring in anthropology (African and international studies) with a minor in environmental studies. For what it’s worth. i ultimately got a master’s in urban planning, with a concentration in land use.

What you learn when you start studying environmental science is that there are laws of nature, and one of them is the concept of population crash. That is, when too many people live in a location (in this case, it is turning out to be highly urbanized areas), if a disease or other environmental disaster strikes….people will die. They will keep dying until nature strikes a balance. And, since humans will absolutely not rein un their consumption and be mindful of their impact on their own environment (lest the next guy gets MORE), here we are, with a pandemic.

It is actually too late. Why would I be so pessimistic? Small businesses are the backbone of American communities. Yet, so many can’t go two weeks without an income stream. They are going to go under. I know a lot of dog groomers will not survive…but where will they go if the whole service industry is in a state of collapse & can’t recover? All those people: Our neighbors, friends, co-workers, who allow life to just happen to them, or think that if God gave them 4+ kids, that God will prevail…good luck to us all.

All my older friends, who partied and drank their lives away, where will they go? The government can just print money and find housing for them, but the government will bail out industries—like the airlines this time, and banks again before they help you or me. Don’t forget that Trump has run up a huge debt to finance his golf junkets.  We still have a chance to elect Bernie Sanders, but that’ s not gonna happen. We’re going to elect Joe Biden, because he’s not too radical…as though his plan will actually help us out of this economic hole.

The Christians are getting what they wanted: the end of days. I am so glad it will take a bunch of them to the rapture. Because these people felt abortion was murder, but would not commit to caring for those unborn that get born—they don’t adopt kids en masse (they just have a philosophically held belief), and if we need more stuff, we’ll go get more stuff, no matter who owns it or how taking it affects them.

We certainly won’t pay teachers of science more, and attract more people who might want to teach science. We don’t trust them! We apparently trust ignorant politicians.

We will never get out of this hole of ignorance. there will be no resources to pay for the damage giant storms do—like flooding, or drought and wildfires, because we don’t believe in science, and not taking more than we can put back in.  this is what climate change looks like.  Very sad.

 

 

OMG!!!! We May Have a Socialist for President!!!

February 25, 2020

Saigon, Viet Mam. socialism….

Back in eighth grade, in the last century, we learned about socialism and communism. We pretty much were taught that it was the same thing. We were not taught anything about economics, but that these were forms of government. It wasn’t until I was radicalized (the Conspiracy Seven trial taking place in Chicago did a lot to convince me to educate myself) did I learn that ‘democracy’,  ‘dictatorship’, and ‘monarchy’ are forms of government. Those other terms are types of economic philosophies.

After reading Marx and Engels, I thought I was a Marxist, but as I matured, I realized that they were writing about the times and what they had experienced. We also learned that Marx never appeared to have worked a real job, and was supported by Engels, his father-in-law. That’s not really cogent, but it helps to have a context and realize that never has there been an ‘all or nothing’ economic system in any government.

What I did learn was that basic economics is basic economics. To have a business, you need materials, labor, overhead costs, promotion/’marketing, and profit. How much is allocated to each is a personal choice (unless you are a cooperative)…but without profits—a surplus, you can’t reinvest, and chances are, you can’t sustain yourself. It doesn’t matter what the economic system is. Add taxes to the mix—that’s where we get into controversy.

I have a degree in urban planning. That doesn’t make me smart, but it does mean I’ve explored what a public ‘good’ is, and why we need them to have economic vitality in our communities.

In the early 1900s in the USA, urban areas were becoming crowded, and due to population density coupled with no knowledge of disease vectors, people were getting sick with cholera, flu, all sorts of icky things. Lots of it had to do with no access to unpolluted drinking water, but sewage was a big issue as well. If you’ve ever visited a less-developed country (compared to the west—especially India), you still see people urinating and defecating all over. People with influence started addressing public health to elected officials.

Of course, the response was (as it is in Trump’s America) “Why should I care?” These politicians seemed to think that diseases would not affect them and their families. Well, they do. Nobody is immune to air and water-born diseases. That’s why you should care.

Do you think public education is expensive? Libraries are a waste? Public hospitals? How about roads, public water supplies, communications infrastructure? When public ‘goods’ as these things are called, are distributed equitably, you have less crime and less disease. The problem is, our politicians have always been racists, and public goods have never been distributed equitably.

Ther are some people, like followers of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman, who think the invisible hand of capitalism always keeps things going smoothly—but it doesn’t. if you study environmental science, you learn about the ‘law of the commons’: the ‘commons’ used to be public area where people could graze livestock. What happened is that some wealthy people grazed more livestock than others on a finite parcel of land, pushing out poorer owners of livestock, and in the end, due to lack of stewardship, the ‘commons’ became barren and could support no livestock at all. That’s what happens when you don’t have laws reining in the  bulliesmore powerful.

The USA had gone through many economic depressions when capitalism got out of whack: goods became too expensive because the owners of the means of production valued exorbitant profits over the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats. A particular cause was land speculation, but also gambling—I mean investing in a future of profit based on nothing real. if you look at the history of stock markets, the concept is there so people who have faith in a company or industry—without really knowing how those who manage the industries behave can share in profits. That’s for real. That doesn’t change.

When FDR became president, we were in a profound depression. There would be no way out without using the Keynesian idea of the government investing in the economy. Obama did this as well. But FDR floated the idea of Social Security for old people and paying taxes to fund it.

Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare law  https://www.medicareresources.org/basic-medicare-information/brief-history-of-medicare/ when Rep. John Conyers (rep from Michigan)actually introduced the idea of single-payer. Johnson & Congress knew the health insurance industry would NEVER ALLOW that & we got Medicare for seniors. The Health Insurance industry continues to lobby our congresspeople about how awful single-payer would be—-as though they manage things any better!

It appears Senators Jackson and Miller started the ball rolling for the EPA : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Environmental_Protection_Agency#History, signed into law by Richard Nixon. Lots of people younger than 60 do not remember how bad out air and water had been. Certainly, Trump doesn’t, but he was most likely living ina high rise or fed bottled water. No matter. Public health improved and our economy continued to thrive. That is, until speculators started an inflation bubble again.

In any case, these were all considered radical socialist ideas. And look: now we consider these ideas, investing in the public good, as rational, not radical at all. We have a homeless problem in our country. No matter what the cause—mental illness, drug abuse, poor planning…homeless people affect us all. We’d all be safer and healthier if we didn’t have people sleeping, urinating, and defecating on our streets.

So here we are, and it’s 2020, and  we have a bona fide socialist—Bernie Sanders—a Jew, no less, campaigning on public goods. We all know what he wants, and for many of us who have been affected by Trump’s far-right agenda, Bernie’s ideas sound better…except to the people who fled socialist countries, or who have been miseducated.

First of all, Bernie will have to deal with Congress, and if Mitch McConnell is still in the Senate, he won’t be able to do anything unless we also elect a Democratic congress. That’s a fact. Even so, everyone will ask, where will we get the money to implement our dreams?

I suggest we all start looking at our foreign aid budget which is put together by lobbyists. No joke. We give bazillions to both Egypt and Israel—which they repackage to win friends and influence other countries. Why should Israelis have single-payer health care & not Americans? You’d weep if you knew how much we’ve spent on the war in Afghanistan—and they still can’t manage a corruption-free democracy. I can go on and on:  https://www.newyorker.com/books/ask-the-author/ask-the-author-live-dexter-filkins-on-afghanistan.

Israel, England, and Sweden are socialist economies, and capitalism is thriving.  The socialist or mixed economies where socialism is not thriving tend to be one-party  states.  Google it.  So don’t tell yourself your choices are between sliding down a razor blade banister or being boiled in oil. Calm down….because if you choose to not vote,  we are giving  Trump four more years to ignore the countries needs, lie,  be corrupt000as he has proven to be…and destroy the natural environment, That last thing—y9ou know, the climate change thinging—we will never recover from.

 

 

 

Can RPCV Influence Foreign Policy?

January 1, 2020

a colorized version of G.P. Murdock’s ethnic map of Africa

In 1992, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer  (PCV) serving as a Town Planner in Blantyre, Malawi.  This was a very tumultuous time in Malawi history…the end of an era.  PCVs are not supposed to be in ‘politically sensitive’ positions, but there I was, tasked with encouraging residents of ‘traditional housing areas’ (unplanned, squatter communities) to organize to develop recycling programs,  working on development control issues,  enforcing planning guidelines,  and making sure regular city services were provided.   I also was tasked with taking over records and rent collections for public housing in my geopolitical area—‘Local Authority,” from Malawi Housing Corporation.   I was told to do all this by the ODA—Overseas Development Assistance. This was the British equivalent to  USAID funding  Malawi government operations.

Lots was going on.  The ‘European Community’ was putting pressure on Hastings ‘Kamuzu’ Banda to allow for a free press and to schedule multi-party elections.  Corruption, of course, was endemic.  Just about everything I did was being sabotaged by a government employee who feared I would uncover a major corruption plan that worked very well for himself and a few friends.    Business people who had ties to the Malawi Congress Party constantly complained that I was meddling. 

I tried to get others to take responsibility for some of my more unpopular, but clearly legal, decisions, but I was the only one who really was not in danger of being ‘disappeared’.

‘.

What I really wanted to do was make a difference.  I had two plans that would have really helped low-income residents of the city townships set their communities on the road to sustainability:   One plan was to give them rate (real estate tax) rebates for planting fruit trees and buying energy-efficient ceramic lined cookstoves.  The other was for them getting titles—  recording their plot ownership—with nobody being allowed to own more than one plot in a Traditional Housing Area (to prevent people from becoming absentee landlords).

Unfortunately, there was no political will.   With the squeeze on for political reforms, foreign aid was frozen.  The Malawi Kwatcha was devalued by over 30% (although government high-level managers were immediately compensated with raises), causing a general strike.

 I was finally threatened by a Host Country National, who complained directly to Peace Corps, because I had demonstrated that I had the capacity to take down illegal developments.

30 years have passed.  I visited Malawi three years ago.  Not much has changed, and what has changed has increased social stratification. Yes, more people have access to credit, but deforestation and overfishing are really taking a toll.  Social indicators have barely improved, but even very poor rural people have access to cell phones..

I believe that once most PCVs have a base in the place where they are serving, they realize that good intentions are not enough.  In some cases,  teachers are really making a difference.  In other places, volunteers are being used as  ‘place fillers’ or technical support, and underlying issues are not being addressed.

I started thinking about this again, just recently, when Ambassador Daniel Foote, our man in Zambia, said what needed to be said:  This is an excerpt from a report on National Public Radio:   ”…..  it started last month with this court ruling where they sentenced two men to 15 years in prison for having sex with each other. The ambassador said he was “horrified” by Zambia’s jailing of same-sex couple Japhet Chataba and Steven Sambaand.  The Zambian government basically told him to mind his own business. And Ambassador Daniel Foote then unloaded. He released a diplomatic statement, that I have seen, you know, few as pointed as this one was.

And he said that the U.S. had saved more than 1 million lives in Zambia with just its HIV programs, and then he went on to accuse the government of being hypocritical, of outright stealing millions of dollars intended to go to important welfare programs. He said that while the corrupt officials doing that don’t even get a slap on the wrist, two men having sex get 15 years in jail. And then he said that everyone should just stop pretending that the U.S. and Zambia have cordial relations.”

 

Long story short,  “…..Zambian President Edgar Lungu was seething mad, and he essentially declared the ambassador persona non grata, and the U.S. had to pull him out of the country.” Oh, btw (from Wikipedia) In 1992, Foote became a Peace Corps volunteer in Sopachuy, Bolivia.

We do-gooders, American citizens,  naively believe our foreign policy upholds human rights and fights corruption. We also believe we are donating money so people can get on the road to both economic and environmental sustainability.  This would be laughable were it not so tragic.  How can Peace Corps Volunteers serve in countries with so little regard for basic human rights?  Certainly, our gay brothers and sisters are not safe.

We all come to consciousness about what is ‘right’, ‘fair’ and ‘tolerable’ in our own time.  Many of us do not remember legal racial discrimination, or that inter racial relationships were illegal in many parts of the USA.  Many of us have never heard the expression that “Rights are never given. They are always taken.”

Going back a bit further, in the USA many women (and people of color) could not get access to contraception without the permission of a husband, or credit without a man co-signing (I have personal experience with this).

Now, many of us might laugh at how stupid and unfair, even counterproductive such laws were.  They were developed by (white) men who wanted to legally restrict those not like themselves.

Is there not a PVC who has not said, “If only the policymakers acted with integrity”?

Being from Chicago, where we had a political machine for over 60 years, I’m in no position to say whether a country is more or less corrupt than where I live.  Because I’ve traveled, I’ve experienced being with people who live in communities that have benefited by the mindset that when wealth is shared and opportunities are equalized, everyone benefits.

How can we tell where the policies of equalization work?  We can look at the improvement of social indicators since the end of WWII, with the correlation of the introduction of Peace Corps Volunteers into countries.  Why is it literacy rates, improvements in infant and maternal mortality, flourishing communications infrastructure,  and access to credit in places like Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and Costa Rica have improved life outcomes in those countries, as well as economic growth, but Nigeria, Mauritania, Malawi, India, and Bangladesh still have such a high percentage of people living in poverty, with no in improvement in social indicators?  Obviously, it is not just a lack of political will, but being rewarded with foreign aid no matter how corrupt they are.  We used to justify this because they weren’t ‘communist’ countries, but what does that really mean?

I’ve joked that the Danes should be in charge of all foreign aid, because, according to Transparency International, Denmark is the least corrupt country on the planet. hpps://www.transparency.org/cpi2018

Is it really too much to ask for transparency, a free press, and respect for RULE OF LAW?  Shouldn’t foreign assistance of any kind ( that is not humanitarian or crisis aid) be linked to accountability and ‘best practice’?

What good does it do us as volunteers when we ignore human rights abuses?  We look disingenuous.

Obviously, the Trump Administration, with his bloviating over the corruption in  Ukraine, isn’t really concerned about corruption in other countries, or even are own when  ‘swamp dwellers’ as most of us would have identified them have been put in charge of government agencies and purses.  Isn’t it time that we, who have served,  address our responsibilities as global citizens?

I am sure most of us who are not involved in the sausage-making wonder on what basis it is that funding is offered to any foreign country. The late George Crile, in his book, “Charlie Wilson’s War,” described in well-researched detail who got what and why over  30 years ago.  Not much has changed:  From the Rapid City, South Dakota, Journal, we got  an interesting piece of information that  Crile addressed: https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/sd-republican-leader-receives-k-monthly-for-pro-saudi-arabia/article_b1352b18-3685-5515-b103-05f3536fcbbe.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share&fbclid=IwAR0EnV8VdpFBTcT1uR3KjUDZxVu2_AVPMi5n_npBX9wKcvU5NOMXLYE8zQ8

Now, granted, Dan Lederman is not an elected official. He is merely a lobbyist for a foreign country and also happens to be the head of the GOP  in…South Dakota.  One has to wonder how he got connected to the Saudis, but never you mind.  This is how our foreign aid budget is allocated.   Can you say Quid Pro Quo?

Thankfully, now that we have the internet, it is easier for all of us to get this information in a timely fashion.  But  I also know that because so many  PCVs returned disillusioned, and feel that we can’t overcome this, they’ve become less politically active.

I think the ideas of accountability and sustainability, as well as respect for human rights should now be part of the discussion. We are invited by host countries to serve. We’ve demonstrated our value.  Shouldn’t Peace Corps state that this is what we want in return?

book review: “Can’t Buy Me Love,” by Chris Kenry

June 29, 2019

I found this book in a neighborhood book bin.  The main  character, raised  upper middle class,  was the ‘boy toy’of an older gay man who was killed in a freak accident. Suddenly Jack is destitute. His college major was art history.  He never had a plan.  Meanwhile, due to self-indulgence, he got himself into massive credit card debt.  He had no idea what to do, but  because of a gay friend, he, by chance, met  Ray. He also had to apply for public aid, but since he  was not a good waiter,and could brely manage ‘custoner serive’,  he  signed up for an entrepreneurship program .  One thing led to another, and he  found he and Ray were into what we’d euphemistically call the ‘escort’ business.

I  found this book (published in 2001:  https://books.google.com/books/about/Can_t_Buy_Me_Love.html?id=Q0ATjNjLMdMC&hl=en),  very funny and well written.  I’d suggest it to anyone with an open mind who  might be interested in starting a business.  They guys do get caught…but they couldn’t ber nailed on tax evasion!