Archive for August, 2016

Soapbox

August 30, 2016

Guys, I don’t want to be a curmudgeon, always hating on things that purport to be put forward for our comfort.  I really don’t.  But you force me into this position sometimes.  Case in point: a recent Refinery29 article on miscarrying in your twenties.  It’s a special problem, they say, despite recognizing that it’s much rarer to miscarry in your twenties than your thirties (1 in 10 for the former, 1 in 4 for the latter.)  Why is it special?  Because it’s isolating, because you don’t have the “life experience” to know how to handle it, because, as one interviewee says, you want to “choose when [you] become a mum.”  But what about a miscarriage at forty?  Also isolating, also you’d like to choose to be a mum (I mean, if the world were perfect, we’d all choose everything) and to balance out that whole life experience thing, the horror of knowing you might not have much time left, which just isn’t the case when you’re twenty-three.  People say stupid things to try to comfort you when you’re twenty-three, but they do when you’re forty-three, too, I’m guessing; people say stupid things all the time, and they will continue to say them for as long as the great world spins.

I’m not saying it isn’t emotionally devastating to miscarry, or to deal with any loss or tragedy.  I’m just saying that this is an example of the media pretending that these are new, sexy problems that need special attention, when in reality they are just dragged out into the light again so that the publication can attract new eyeballs (=clicks) by pretending they’ve unearthed some heretofore uncharted landscape of human suffering (see also: the Telegraph’s article on “anorexia athletica,” which highlights an unrecognized problem that has nevertheless been in the news for decades now, cannot statistically be said to be on the “rise,” and is oftentimes just a facet of anorexia nervosa, which they can’t use in the headline because that diagnosis has lost its luster as a subject as it’s been reported to death.)

But don’t take it from me––take it from my prophet bestie George W.S. Trow, BDE, who saw this shit coming a mile away.

Important Programming

Important programming is programming that recognizes the problem.

Important Programming

It if is just a problem––teenage alcoholics who need to talk to Matron––then it is a little boring after a while, because it is only half of the problem.  The the problem might have to be doubled.  You might have to add Angel Dust or Runaways or Child Abuse.  You might have to, because just the problem is only half of the problem.

Experts

The problem is offered up to authority for healing.  But Pepper shies away from healing, and so does Matron.  They conduct the problem to other experts.  The experts shy away a little, too.  Who would have thought it?  “We move toward a full discussion of the problem,” they murmur.  “During this discussion, you will experience a little sense of home.  Do you feel it now?  No?  Then perhaps our discussion has not been full.  Is that perhaps your fault?”
“In what lies your authority?” a willfull person asks after a time.

“Why, in the problem,” an expert answers honestly.

Important Programming

The most important programming deals with people with a serious problem who make it to the Olympics.  It is the powerful metaphor of our time––babies given up for dead who struggle toward a national life and make it just for a minute.  It’s a long distance to come.  People feel it very deeply and cheer the babies on.

Problems

An important question to ask about an association of individuals is, “How does it spend its best energies?”  One can imagine many answers to this question.  One answer, certainly, would be “Dealing with problems.”  One would expect this answer from, for instance, a poor association of individuals or an association without ambition.  But even from associations as impoverished as these associations might be, one would not expect the answer “Aspiring to love problems.”

 

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Shoe Poms

August 24, 2016

A big tragedy as of late was that these shoe pom-poms were sold out.  I swear, sometimes I feel like I live in a war zone, given all I go through…

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 7.51.50 PM

I don’t have the best kicks to go with these, though, so…

That Time I Traded Theater Tickets on Craigslist and Came Out Nearly Two Grand Ahead

August 22, 2016

This weekend, we had friends over for dinner, and we were talking about funny experiences on Craigslist, and I was reminded of the time five years ago when my friend KC and I traded two tickets to a play at BAM for a week on the North Fork of Long Island.  Below, the long winded account of our victory.  (Never did get featured in the Times, though, I’m reminded!)

The Ad

 

2 tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

Date: 2009-12-02, 4:03PM EST

Reply to: sale-2sxxb-1491949221@craigslist.org

Two twenty-something Columbia grads have two extra tickets to see Cate Blanchett (directed by Bergman muse Liv Ullman) as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire at Brooklyn Academy of Music on Friday, December 11th at 7:30 PM. Will accept exchange for personalized gifts, written works, tickets to other performances including but not limited to: ballet, opera, theater, private art viewings, movies, promises of grand gestures, beautifully crafted love letters, a delicious meal at a restaurant, etc. Be creative!

The Sweet Underdogs

From:  Tom Wilzer <twilzer@gmail.com>

To:      sale-2sxxb-1491949221@craigslist.org

Date:   Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Subject:           I want these tickets badly.

 

Dinner for two at the spotted pig, or somewhere else, if you’re vegetarian/vegan.

40% discount at Odin (men’s boutique) and Pas de Deux (women’s boutique).

 

My undying love and affection.

 

In person recitation of Queen Mab speech.

 

All can be yours if the tickets can be mine.

 

Thank you,

Grant Wheeler

 

From:              Elizabeth Knox <septimus7sylph@gmail.com>

To:                  ID <itinerantdaughterandson@gmail.com>

Date:               Thu, Dec 3, 2009 at 12:20 AM

Subject:           Re: A Streetcar Named Desire

           

Wow! Okay and thank you for the quick response. I thought I would also let you know that my best friend who I went to Interlochen with (who is a very gifted poet) somehow meant an artist who was a friend of Frida Kahlos when she was down in Mexico, and teamed up with her to write poems about her work. You said your friend loved Salvador Dali, and these paintings with poems inspired by the artwork are one of kind. I also make fun, charm bracelets on ribbon. But the most popular bracelets I make, and the ones all my friends have are cuss bracelets. I get lots of fun colors and beads like turtles, whales, teddy bears, you know like kid stuff, and then you pick out your favorite cuss word in bright letters. They’re the best! Just thought I’d let you know what else I have to offer…hope to hear from you soon!

 

A Lovely Story

 

From:              Andrea Pasternak <APasternak@giantlawfirm.com>

To:                  sale-2sxxb-1491949221@craigslist.org

Date:               Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Subject:           2 tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

 

You are very creative! Are you women or men? My boss is going to Streetcar tomorrow night because his daughter is organizing the gala at BAM. I am a legal secretary and could never dream of Streetcar, it is beyond my dreams.

I have never seen a live play before, though I read plays from the library and love literature. You must be brilliant to be Columbia grads. I admire your moxie.

I hope you find your hearts’ desire. I would love to know who you awarded them to, and what they bestowed upon you.

 

Andrea Pasternak

 

From:              ID <itinerantdaughterandson@gmail.com>

To:                  Andrea Pasternak <APasternak@giantlawfirm.com>

Date:               Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 8:33 PM

Subject:           Re: 2 tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

 

Hi Andrea,

That’s sweet of you, thanks! We’re female grads. The Gala sounds incredible too! Not that you included details but hey, Streetcar, Cate Blanchett, BAM, gala… what’s not to love?

I’ll be sure to tell you who wins the prize. We’ve had some cool responses thus far.

Get yourself to a live play STAT!

Sincerely,

ID

 

From:              Andrea Pasternak <APasternak@giantlawfirm.com>

To:                  Itinerant Daughter <itinerantdaughterandson@gmail.com>

Date:               Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 9:07 PM

Subject:           RE: 2 tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

 

Hi ID,

 

Thank you for your kind note. I am very lucky – I’m going to Streetcar! My boss, who is trustee of a philanthropic fund, asked the Development Director at BAM if she had a ticket left for me, and she did! I am absolutely thrilled. It’s so amazing.

 

All the best,

Sincerely,

Andrea

 

from    ID <itinerantdaughterandson@gmail.com>

to         Andrea Pasternak <APasternak@giantlawfirm.com>

date     Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 9:09 PM

subject Re: 2 tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

 

Have a great time!

 

 

A Sketchy Reply

 

From:              Claudette Davide <yoclaudette@hotmail.com>

To:                  sale-2sxxb-1491949221@craigslist.org

Date:               Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 6:55 PM

Subject:           Tickets?

 

Our offer depend, partially, on:

 

are you men looking for women?

men looking for men?

women looking for men?

or

women looking for women?

 

Looking forward for a great exchange…

 

Claudette

 

From:              ID <itinerantdaughterandson@gmail.com>

To:                  Claudette Davide <yoclaudette@hotmail.com>

Date:               Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 7:54 PM

Subject:           Re: Tickets?

 

Ha… we are women, but we’re not looking for anything sexual, so the recipients’ genders are irrelevant to us…

 

Though we do prefer pretty people to ugly ones.

 

The Strangest Responses

 

From:              Hillary Norris <hn87@ivyleagueuniversity.edu>

To:                  sale-2sxxb-1491949221@craigslist.org

Date:               Thu, Dec 3, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Subject:           2 tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

 

Hi there,

 

I suspect you’ve been flooded with all sorts of colourful offers for those highly prized tix – but if not, consider the helpful services of an Australian veterinary pathologist (in training)! Do you have any dead pets you’d like an opinion on? Or live ones…? I’m looking for a reason to head to the city in a couple of weeks (and escape rainy Ithaca). I missed the Sydney Theatre Company’s Sydney shows of STND as I was on my way over here and would love a chance to see Cate Blanchett on stage. Let me know! And enjoy the show!

 

Cheers,

 

Hillary

 

From:              S. B. Summers <samanthabsummers@gmail.com>

To:                  sale-wtmuu-1494817476@craigslist.org

Date:               Sun, Dec 6, 2009 at 2:55 PM

Subject:           Streetcar Named Desire

 

 

Hi,

 

I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have the two Streetcar Named Desire tickets you have for next Friday. Not to toot my own horn, but I happen to be an incredible baker and make a (vegan) ginger, macadamia, coconut carrot cake to die for! I’m also a public defender in the Bronx Family Court and would be happy to represent you in a child neglect or abuse case. 😉 The gentleman who would be accompanying me is a scientist and could meet any of your chemistry needs (not an offer to make illicit substances, btw). That’s all I’ve got. If you have any specific requests, let me know!!

 

Best,

Samantha

 

A Really Annoying Response

 

From:              Allen Parks <atparks@gmail.com>

To:                  sale-wtmuu-1494817476@craigslist.org

Date:               Sat, Dec 5, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Subject:           Streetcar tixs?

 

I’m not very creative unless you consider this as an opportunity to make a young woman/my incredible girlfriend a very happy person for Christmas. 🙂

 

If that does anything for you, please let me know.

 

Allen

 

A Funny Response

 

From:              acyoung <acyoung@gmail.com>

To:                  sale-wtmuu-1494817476@craigslist.org

Date:               Sat, Dec 5, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Subject:           street car tickets

 

I am willing to clean your house completely naked for these tickets.

 

The Curveball

 

From:              Sasha Attenberg <sashaattenberg@yahoo.com>

To:                  sale-wtmuu-1494817476@craigslist.org

Date:               Sat, Dec 5, 2009 at 8:42 PM

Subject:           Streetcar offer…

 

Hello, I saw your offer on Craigslist…so how about this: I published a book on Tennessee Williams’ later plays some years ago called The Politics of Reputation, and have also edited and introduced a new volume of his later plays for New Directions Publishing titled The Traveling Companion, previously unpublished work from the 1960s, `70s, and `80s that came out last year…I can get you a copy of each, signed. I have been trying to get tickets to this production, and Tennessee’s last assistant and companion, John Uecker, has been trying as well…with no luck. We both think it’s important for us to see the play, and do want to go desperately.

Please let me know what you think…

Thanks,

Sasha

 

Five Runners-Up

 

  1. From: alyssa lampisi <alyssa_la@yahoo.com>

To:                  sale-wtmuu-1494817476@craigslist.org

Date:               Sun, Dec 6, 2009 at 9:02 PM

Subject:           Streetcar named desire tix

 

We are two employees at the United Nations on short work assignment in NY and would love to see this play! We are stationed in countries that do not offer much in the way of cultural events, especially with award winning actors! This would make our NY visit the top of the pops! In exchange we can offer you two tour tickets to the United Nations building and we will take you to lunch in the private staff only delegates dining room as our guest where you can eat with UN dignitaries, possibly even the Secretary General will be there too.

 

Kindly let us know if our offer interests you!

 

Best,

Alyssa

 

  1. From: Nevalle Horace <nhorace@gmail.com>

To:                  sale-wtmuu-1494817476@craigslist.org

Date:               Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 7:13 PM

Subject:           Streetcar

           

Here’s my creative offer: I write crosswords for the NY Times (you can

google me to see my work). I will create for you and your seatmate a

personalized crossword puzzle all about you. Great for proposals,

anniversaries, etc. And I’ll put the word “Stella” in it too.

 

(I’m also a lawyer, so if some free legal services are more your speed…)

 

Enjoy!

Nevalle

 

  1. From: Chung, Stephanie <lily.tang@enormousbank.com>

To:                  “sale-wtmuu-1494817476@craigslist.org”

Date:               Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Subject:           Tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

 

How about a day of sailing any day you choose? Our 30 ft sailboat is docked in City Island (1 hr drive from the city).

 

Includes champagne and lunch on board (again your choice of food).

 

  1. From: Alanna Glass <agyorfi@amnh.org>

To:                  sale-2sxxb-1491949221@craigslist.org

Date:               Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 5:14 PM

Subject:           2 tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

 

Hello,

 

I work at the American Museum of Natural History. I can get you unlimited free tickets to every show at the museum (planetarium movies, IMAX movies, special exhibitions, and behind the scenes tours of the exhibition department) for one full year!   My friend and I working here would love love love the tickets, and I really hope you like this museum so that this deal is enticing. Please let me know soon!!!!

 

Thank you very much!

 

Adrianna

 

  1. From: Delora Wieting <delora.wieting@comcast.net>

To:                  sale-wtmuu-1494817476@craigslist.org

Date:               Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 6:23 PM

Subject:           Tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

 

Yes!!!! I love that you are looking for a creative trade. We are creatively willing to trade you a photograph of a dog named Stella AND a week (without us) in our house in Burlington Vermont on Lake Champlain… Or if you don’t care for travel, you could have two pounds of Small World coffee shipped to you every month for a year. We have a 3 bedroom place on Lake Champlain that you could enjoy almost any week of the year (except the week between Christmas and New Years). It’s a joyful place to be any time… But if you prefer to get jacked up on the best coffee in America (that’s right, we roast it!) we will happily share our beans for a year in exchange for theater tickets for a night. And, ofcourse, a photo of our four-legged Stella. What do you say? Say yes, and make new friends.

 

The Winner:

 

From:              SAVANNAH THOMPSON <estateantiques@optonline.net>

To:                  sale-wtmuu-1494817476@craigslist.org

Date:               Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Subject:           Tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

 

We would love to offer you a week at our waterfront cottage at Breezy Shores in Greenport, NY. It’s an adorable two bedroom looking across the water at Shelter Island. Fridge will be stocked with North Fork wine and cheese. (Obviously to be redeemed when the weather is warmer and you can really enjoy it!)

 

Backtrack

 

From:              Suborov, Pam <pam.suborov@megapublisher.com>

To:                  sale-2sxxb-1491949221@craigslist.org

Date:               Thu, Dec 3, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Subject:           2 tickets to Streetcar Named Desire (BAM)

 

How about brand new books from my publishing company? Would make great Christmas gifts. Think of the money you’d save!

 

You can call me at 646xxxx or at work at 212xxxxx

 

Pam

 

The Rejection

 

From:              ID <itinerantdaughterandson@gmail.com>

To:                  Pam Suborov, and others

Date:               Sun, Dec 6, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Subject:           Streetcar Tickets

 

Hi everyone,

 

Thank you so much for responding to our exchange offer so thoughtfully and creatively! Unfortunately we’ve had to narrow down the contenders and thus are writing to tell you that you were not chosen. I highly recommend doing something like this if you find yourself with spare tickets; it will renew your faith in the communal artistic spirit! And forward it along to me, if you do, so I can return the favor with an epic poem!

 

Sincerely,

ID

 

The Challenge

 

From:              Pam Suborov <pam.suborov@megapublisher.com>

To:                  Itinerant Daughter <itinerantdaughterandson@gmail.com>

Date:               Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 9:33 AM

subject:            Re: Streetcar Tickets

                       

Thanks and what a kind note! Just curious… what offers did you get?

All the best for a happy holiday season,

 

Pam

 

From:              ID <itinerantdaughterandson@gmail.com>

To:                  “Suborov, Pam” <pam.suborov@harpercollins.com>

Date:               Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 11:58 AM

Subject:           Re: Streetcar Tickets

           

Hey Pam,

 

Thank you! This has really been so much fun. Funnily enough, I work for a writer (am an aspiring one, myself) whose last two books were published by your company, so I have a hook up there already :). Right now we’re deciding between a year free at the Museum of Natural History (including all planetarium and IMAX shows!), a week at a house on the North Fork of Long Island, a week at a house on Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont, and a personal tour of the UN with lunch in the staff dining room. Also, Tennessee Williams’ final assistant and “companion” responded and wants to come, along with a scholar friend of his who wrote a book about Williams. This presents a bit of a literary moral dilemma, don’t you think?

 

Happy holidays to you!

 

Sincerely,

ID

 

From:              Suborov, Pam <gail.dubov@harpercollins.com>

To:                  ID <itinerantdaughterandson@gmail.com>

Date:               Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Subject:           Re: Streetcar Tickets

 

I just love it! I am going to tell someone I know at the Times about this—I think it’s an article in the making.

 

Who do you work for that is published by HC? No moral dilemma really. Maybe you can get an autographed copy of something by Tennessee Williams…I’d take the North Fork (if it’s not in winter and after you see photos of the house) or the Museum of Natural History for a year. All IMAX and Planetarium shows? That’s worth a lot.

 

Books from HC seems like a wimpy proposal compared to what you’ve been offered! But if you’d like any books anyway for Christmas presents, let me know. Just because you sound like a good human being!

 

A Genius Idea

 

From:              Edith Thompson <edith.thompson@mac.com>

To:                  Kelsey Osgood <kelsey.osgood@gmail.com>

Date:               Tue, Dec 8, 2009 at 3:50 PM

Subject:           Re: re

           

Your angle could be something about wanting free swag, tone down the artistic/altruistic endeavor & ramp up your curiosity in seeing what people might offer

 

Tally/Profit

 

Total cost for four tickets to Streetcar:                                                          $160

 

Total cost for one week in July at a sample 2-bedroom, 1 bath house in Greenport, Long Island, property 186858 listed on www.homeaway.com:                                           $1950

 

Total cost for four bottles of 2007 Merlot from Bedell Cellars Winery in Cutchogue, New York:                                                                                                                          $25

 

Total cost for a “Picnic Special,” which includes 2 cheese selections, box of crackers, plastic utensils, plates, napkins, and a chunk of goat milk fudge from Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic, New York:                                                                                                $20

 

Total cost:                                                                                                                   $1995

 

Profit =                                                                                                                       $1835

 

 

The One For Which We Would Be in the Most Debt

 

From:              Jasna Gorcik Miroslav <Jasna_miroslav@yahoo.com>

To:                  sale-2sxxb-1491949221@craigslist.org

Date:               Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 10:51 PM

Subject:           tickets fro Streetcar named desire

           

Hi!

I just saw your ad, it is exceptional! I missed the play in DC and I would love to see it. Please let me know if tickets are still available. I can offer to pay for them, or can be your guide in Belgrade, Serbia, one of the cities everybody falls in love with, and/or in Herceg Novi in Montenegro, the city on the coast of the Adriatic see.

 

Best regards,

Zlata

 

Total cost for Streetcar tickets:                                                                                  $160

 

Total cost (including tax) for round airfare to Belgrade, Serbia in May via Cheaptickets.com:                                                                                                         $1,153

 

 

 

Profit =                                                                                                                       $-993

           

The Product

This

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Thoughts on the JonBenet Rams-aissance

August 19, 2016

We all know people are really into true crime these days.  I’m sure there are myriad think pieces I can read about this, but I don’t need a pundit to elaborate on the universal truth that humans adore blood, gore, and a sense of moral superiority.  Anyway, according to Vogue.com, it looks like the next big nineties murder to get the true crime docu-series treatment’s gonna be JonBenet Ramsey.  A few questions on that, and also the article itself.  Here are some excerpts:

“… rehashing the real-life Philip Roth novel that was the O.J. Simpson case proved a successful pursuit this year… “

How do you figure Philip Roth?

“Adding to the bubbling Ramsey craze redux is Dr. Phil McGraw, who is already counterprogramming the CBS series this week by teasing the first-ever interview with JonBenet’s brother, Burke, now 29, who was 9 at the time of the murder.”

Okay, this is the big one .  Some of you might know I’m a Burke truther, but that’s neither here nor there.  The real question is: you’re a very sought-after interview, and you go with DOCTOR PHIL?!  That’s extremely embarrassing.  Hit up a classier TV journalist like Barbara, if you have your pick.  Not sexual predator, litigation magnet, bad pet parent McGraw.  Sheesh.  Why don’t people consult me before they do things like this?

“Unlike either Simpson project, The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey won’t be camp drama or a higher-brow almost-academic exploration of the case. Instead, it looks more like a longer, bigger-budget 48 Hours. In a particularly fascinating stunt, CBS rebuilt the Ramsey family home in Boulder, Colorado—to scale—in a warehouse, for the purpose of revisiting the crime scene. But that’s not to say the show won’t smack as sordid or raise uneasy questions about repackaging and resensationalizing a child’s murder, conveniently, during September sweeps.”

Wait-–why is there a “but” after the announcement of the model house?!  If anything, to me that revelation indicates exactly that the show will “smack as sordid… ”

 

Hands Down the Most Ridiculous Story I’ve Ever Heard

August 15, 2016

From Radhanath Swami’s book The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami, which chronicles Swami’s years traveling around India in search of a spiritual guru:

In Kandahar, the people greeted me warmly.  One man in particular, Hariz, took a special interest in me.  tall and well groomed, he was an educated man who had acquired wealth and respect in the trading business.  Through his economic ventures and holidays, he frequently traveled abroad.  After guiding me on a tour of Kandahar, he invited me into his spacious home.  One quiet night while we sat on his rooftop terrace engaged in a philosophical discussion, he calmly said, “Mr. Richard, please excuse me for a brief moment, I have an obligation to attend to.”  Suddenly, he jumped up from his chair, cocked his head to the moon and began to howl like a wolf, “Aaauuuwww, aaauuuwww, aaauuuwww.”  What was going on?  Had this distinguished gentleman gone mad?  He grabbed a long rope with a loop at the end, raced to the edge of his rooftop and hurled it down to the road.  What in the world was he doing?  With rapt attention, he slowly reeled the rope in.  To my amazement, he had fished up a wriggling rodent the size and shape of a ferret.  I watched in wonder.  This was a mongoose, which, it turned out, wandered the town by day, and each evening, responded to Hariz’s howl, by crawling into the loop of the rope, where he was hoisted up, and spent the night on the roof.  As my friend and I resumed speaking, I felt the mongoose scaling up my back with his sharp pointed claws.  He crawled under my long hair until he reached my head.  There, he burrowed himself in my thick locks, making his nest, and went to sleep.  Feeling his warm body deeply breathing on my head, I experienced another kind of culture shock.

I looked to my host for help.  “What do I do now?”

My friend laughed.  “Mr. Richard, he found a good nest in your hair.”

My neck felt as if it were breaking from his weight.  “Please take him off.”

Hariz became serious.  Under the starlit night, he sipped his tea and narrowed his eyes, warning me, “There is an ancient truth: Never wake up a sleeping mongoose.”  He set the teacup on the table and told me the animal was sacred to the ancient Egyptians.  “The mongoose is a ferocious killer when angered.  In battle, a mongoose will slay the cobra, the deadliest of serpents and symbol of death.”  Hariz sipped his tea again and leaned back, “If you suddenly wake him, he may tear your head to shreds.  Mr. Richard, do not even slightly move until he leaves on his own.”

Hours passed as I sat motionless, fearing for my life.  From time to time, the mongoose moved, digging his claws into my scalp.  Hariz could no longer stay awake, so with many apologies, he left to sleep.  I sat alone now.  That dark sleepless night in Kandahar seemed never to end.  My neck throbbed with pain, but I was too terrified to move.  The mongoose on my  head was like a time bomb that could explode at any second.  I was quickly losing the attachment I had to my long hair.  If only the immigration officers in England had acted on their threat to shave my head, life would be so much safer tonight.

I tried to console myself.  At least someone appreciated my hair!  But the mongoose had not come alone.  Ravenous insects started biting into my scalp, obliterating these noble thoughts.  Why was this happening to me?  Feeling my vulnerability, I strained to control my emotions.  Then, contemplating, I tried to make sense of it all.  I realized that our free will could convert a curse into a blessing or a blessing into a curse.  Yes, ludicrous as it was, this mongoose may have been sent to teach me the sacred virtue of patience and forbearance.  To bear difficulty and turn to God was a priceless blessing.  To transform a crisis into an opportunity was true wisdom.

The rest of the night was spent in an unusual state of gratitude.  Little did I know that what the mongoose taught me about crisis would give me strength in the hard times that awaited me.  By the time the sun finally rose, my uninvited guest had enjoyed a good six hours of sound sleep.  He awoke, crawled down my back, and jumped to the floor.  He then did something that moved my heart: the mongoose stared at me with an innocent affection as if thanking me for my hospitality.  turning from me, he crawled into the loop of the rope where Hariz, who had just awakened, lowered him down to the street for another day.

Hariz smiled at me.  “Mr. Richard, I beg forgiveness for the inconvenience you suffered.  Nothing like that ever happened in my home before.  But please be happy to know that in our culture it is a pious deed to offer hospitality to one of our mongooses and you did so without any of the mechanical formalities.  This morning he looked so happy and well rested.”

My aching neck numb from strain and sleeplessness, I considered his words.  Had I heard him say mongooses, in the plural?  I decided I really didn’t want to be around the next time he cocked his head toward the sky and howled like a wolf.  Scratching my bug bitten head and itching to move on, I sighed.  “Hariz, thank you very much.  You’ve already done so much for me.  But I think I best be on my way.”

 

Drowning

August 8, 2016

That really scary thing where you’re trying to look up the prices for swimming packages at your local Y-ish place and you come across an Independent article from 1995 on the facilities that begins… :

A MOTHER and her two young children were found drowned in a leisure centre swimming pool in central London yesterday. Police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

Their three bodies, all fully clothed, were discovered by a member of the staff in the main 25-metre pool at the Seymour Leisure Centre in Seymour Place, Marylebone, on arriving for work just before 7am.

I can find no information on whether they actually determined what happened (although it seems like there’s a likely explanation) and I really want to know.  Cruel aside: this would be a good opening for a horror flick.

Back

August 7, 2016

I was away these past two weeks, in case you didn’t notice from my infrequent posting, but I’m back now (hooray!) to post more inane shit.  In the meantime, here’s the door of Tannaz Hazemi‘s apartment…

tannaz-hazemi-9