Friday, March 30, 2012


I met a very nice younger (a.k.a. 24 year-old) person yesterday who was talking about her quest for identity after college. She didn't call it her "quest for identity after college" - that's the cliche this creaky old cow uses to summarize the various concerns she talked about, like choosing a course of study, finishing grad school, getting a job, finding a partner, figuring out the next few years. All very normal things to be worried about at any stage of American life, but especially in your early 20s.

This person was clearly very conscientious and deliberate, to the point where she apologized for wanting a partner, a job, babies, and a family.  I didn't catch everything she said (the bar was like all bars very loud) but the term "Disney fantasy" came from somewhere and hung in the air.  It was the normativity of her desires that made her ashamed of them.

Why the hell is it not okay to want these things? What the hell are we supposed to want? To suffer alone???

Friday, March 16, 2012

life choices

On this rainy morning, I rode the BART to Oakland by accident. My stop came and went and I just stood there looking at the signs but not registering their relation to me. Then the gantry cranes on the Port of Oakland came into view and I said whoops then descended some stairs and ascended some other stairs and waited for the next train then the cranes disappeared and twenty minutes later I was mixing berries with oatmeal at my desk.

Later in the day, I walked in on a partner using a single-stall bathroom. She hadn't locked the door. We made eye contact. I saw legs. She shrieked. I said, "Oh my God sorry" and slammed the door. Then I went and hid a conference room for fifteen minutes to ensure that we would not cross paths when she left. Now I am going to walk to 7-11 to buy a Mega Millions ticket so that we never have to see each other ever again.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

this is how you tell a story

The government's opening statement in United States v. Timothy McVeigh:
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, April 19th, 1995, was a beautiful day in Oklahoma City. At least it started out as a beautiful day. The sun was shining. Flowers were blooming. It was springtime in Oklahoma City. Sometime after six o'clock that morning, Tevin Garrett's mother woke him up to get him ready for the day. He was only 16 months old. He was a toddler; and as some of you know that have experience with toddlers, he had a keen eye for mischief. He would often pull the cord of her curling iron in the morning, pull it off the counter top until it fell down, often till it fell down on
him. That morning, she picked him up and wrestled with him on her bed before she got him dressed. She remembers this morning because that was the last morning of his life.

That morning, Mrs. Garrett got Tevin and her daughter ready for school and they left the house at about 7:15 to go downtown to Oklahoma City. She had to be at work at eight o'clock. Tevin's sister went to kindergarten, and they dropped the little girl off at kindergarten first; and Helena Garrett and Tevin proceeded to downtown Oklahoma City. Usually she parked a little bit distant from her building; but this day, she was running a little bit late, so she decided that she would park in the Murrah Federal Building. She did not work in the Murrah Building. She wasn't even a federal employee. She worked across the street in the General Records Building. She pulled into the lot, the parking lot of the federal building, in order to make it into work on time; and she went upstairs to the second floor with Tevin, because Tevin attended the day-care center on the second floor of the federal building. When she went in, she saw that Chase and Colton Smith were already there, two-years-old and three-years-old. Dominique London was there already. He was just shy of his third birthday. So was Zack Chavez. He had already turned three. When she turned to leave to go to her work, Tevin, as so often happens with small children, cried and clung to her; and then, as you see with children so frequently, theytry to help each other. One of the little Coverdale boys—there were two of them, Elijah and Aaron—the youngest one was two-and-a-half. Elijah came up to Tevin and patted him on the back and comforted him as his mother left. As Helena Garrett left the Murrah Federal Building to go to work across the street, she could look back up at the building; and there was a wall of plate glass windows on the second floor. You can look through those windows and see into the day-care center; and the children would run up to those windows and press their hands and faces to those windows to say good-bye to their parents. And standing on the sidewalk, it was almost as though you can reach up and touch the children there on the second floor. But none of the parents of any of the children that I just mentioned ever touched those children again while they were still alive.

At nine o'clock that morning, two things happened almost simultaneously. In the Water Resources Building. That's another building to the west of the Murrah Building across the street. An ordinary legal proceeding began in one of the hearing rooms. And at the same time, in front of the Murrah Building, a large Ryder truck pulled up into a vacant parking space in front of the building and parked right beneath those plate glass windows from the day-care center.

What these two separate but almost simultaneous events have in common is that they both involved grievances of some sort. The legal proceeding had to do with water rights. It wasn't a legal proceeding as we are having here, because there was no court reporter. It was a taped recorded proceeding, and you will hear the tape recording of that proceeding. It was an ordinary, everyday-across-America, typical legal proceeding in which one party has a grievance and brings it into court or into a hearing to resolve it, to resolve it not by violence and terror but to resolve it in the same way we are resolving matters here, by constitutional due process.

And across the street, the Ryder truck was there also to resolve a grievance. But the truck wasn't there to resolve the grievance by means of due process or by any other democratic means. The truck was there to impose the will of Timothy McVeigh on the rest of America and to do so by premeditated violence and terror, by murdering innocent men, women and children, in hopes of seeing blood flow in the streets of America.

At 9:02 that morning, two minutes after the water rights proceeding began, a catastrophic explosion ripped the air in downtown Oklahoma City. It instantaneously demolished the entire front of the Murrah Building, brought down tons and tons of concrete and metal, dismembered people inside, and it destroyed, forever, scores and scores and scores of lives, lives of innocent Americans: clerks, secretaries, law enforcement officers, credit union employees, citizens applying for Social Security, and little kids. All the children I mentioned earlier, all of them died, and more; dozens and dozens of other men, women, children, cousins, loved ones, grandparents, grandchildren, ordinary Americans going about their business. And the only reason they died, the only reason that they are no longer with us, no longer with their loved ones, is that they were in a building owned by a government that Timothy McVeigh so hated that with premeditated intent and a well-designed plan that he had developed over months and months before the bombing, he chose to take their innocent lives to serve his twisted purpose. In plain, simple language, it was an act of terror, violence, intended to serve selfish political purpose.

The man who committed this act is sitting in this courtroom behind me, and he's the one that committed those murders. After he did so, he fled the scene; and he avoided even damaging his eardrums, because he had earplugs with him.

You will hear evidence in this case that McVeigh liked to consider himself a patriot, someone who could start the second American Revolution. The literature that was in his car when he was arrested included some that quoted statements from the founding fathers and other people who played a part in the American Revolution, people like Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams. McVeigh isolated and took these statements out of context, and he did that to justify his anti-governmental violence.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the statements of our forefathers can never be twisted to justify warfare against innocent children. Our forefathers didn't fight British women and children. They fought other soldiers. They fought them face to face, hand to hand. They didn't plant bombs and run away wearing earplugs.

Thank you.
The prosecutor was Joseph Hartzler.

Monday, March 12, 2012

vernal fall

I think I need a new narrative. This "My life feels mediocre" line is boring me and boring the people around me. For example, I found it hard to be scintillating with J. and A. last night, even though I am ordinarily scintillating. (If expressions of immodesty can't be forgiven in one's journal, point me to that sacred space where judgment is judged and the subject is free to speak her mind!) I met them at The Lookout at 10:30. I sipped a beer which ultimately I only drank half of, while J. took in a Coke in a tumbler and A. a whiskey or rum concoction on ice. It was loud by the bar and my attempt to shout questions to Jason about his life and law firm in London led to fits of coughing. We moved to the rear room, where unbrushed straight people celebrating the launch of a pop-up food vendor (beef stew and chocolate covered madeleines; I hope the KitchenAids will sell high enough on the secondhand market for them to repay at least half their debts when the operation bankrupts), and where we dislocated a stranger's purse-coat arrangement from its perch so that all of us would have stools to sit on while we looked each other in the face and talked about ourselves. As is customary I tried to redirect the gulfstream of curiosity back to the other side of the table, but once when asked how my life was going all I could think of to say was the dull narrative described above. And since so much of one's mood is determined by what one thinks one's mood should be, I think it's time for me to drop the glum act and say, "I'm HAPPY, life is GOOD, it's SPRING, my girlfriend and my dog and my family LOVE me and I have a JOB that pays me way more MONEY than any unskilled 31 year-old's job should pay!" Let us try this affirmation, along with daily smile-muscle calisthenics, and luxuriate in the serotonin elevation that will result.