theworldofdale

Archive for 2015|Yearly archive page

i’ll be home for christmas (almost)

In Home, News and Politics, Religion on December 28, 2015 at 9:25 pm

I bought a house today. My agent was my friend Laurie. I met Laurie ten years ago at a long-defunct bar called The Lab. It was a bar in Over the Rhine and being just a few years out from the riots, having four people there on a weeknight meant the place was poppin’. I was recently out of a poorly-considered reunion with an ex and Laurie was annoyed enough with men in general to lend a sympathetic ear to my story of mid-20s love gone wrong (or rather, was never love in the first place).

Over the years, that barstool friendship evolved across husbands and boyfriends, jobs and different jobs, debauchery of youth and the circle back to good conversation over a few beers. After referring a few friends to her real estate agent services, I got serious about buying my own place. And when I finally found The House of Dale, I wrote the following heartfelt letter in hopes of swaying the sellers with my earnest declaration of emotions (it turns out all I had to do was want to buy it rather than rent it, but who knew?):

Dear Brad and Angelina*,

Attached is my purchase offer for the home on Pennsylvania Avenue*. I also wanted to share what has led me to this place.

I never thought I’d be able to own my own home. After unemployment left our family leaving Detroit unexpectedly when I was 14 years old, we moved to a small town in Ohio, renting a house from my sister and brother-in-law. My parents still rent that tiny house, 22 years later. After three years of dorm living, I started 18 years of renting. Mostly apartments, a couple houses, usually alone, sometimes with roommates. I thought my “property” ownership would be limited to my car and a square foot of an island off the coast of Maine (life is weird).

A year ago, I got a new job. Previous obstacles to my gainful employment, mostly health-related, had diminished to a point where I could consider what had seemed impossible: home ownership. This not merely a purchase for me; even the mortgage pales in comparison to the true meaning of this contract: security and a willing responsibility to the commitment of providing my life’s sanctuary.

I love this house. It’s a place where I can feel at the home for the first time since we drove away from our house in Detroit 22 years ago. Any dollars and cents in this contract is eclipsed by the heart I offer for my American Dream come true.

Thank you for considering my offer in its entirety.

Sincerely,

Snarkler*

Brad and Angelina didn’t give a shit about my heartfelt letter. They are business people who flip houses for a living. If they gave a shit about my heartfelt letter, they wouldn’t be good at their jobs. It’s okay. I still got the house.

But those words are still true. This hasn’t been so much a financial transaction as the fulfillment of a dream deferred. A home is security. A home is safety. A home is where you have the liberty to wear robes all the time and eat cookies and pizza for breakfast and enjoy privacy for multi-flush poops. You can play music loud and take long showers (but please be responsible in your water use). A place to lay your head is what keeps you going when you’re out in the world, with its unpredictability and disapproval of robe-only ensembles.

When weather is bad, we want to be at home. When we’re sick, we want to be at home. When we’re tired, or scared, or stuck in traffic – especially when we’re stuck in traffic – we want to be at home.

The refugees of Syria, of Sudan, of Afghanistan, of dozens of countries where unspeakable abuse – trafficking, child soldiers, pirating, blatant violence – has driven its people to flee with only the clothes on their backs, risking their lives and the lives of their children, are looking for homes. They are looking for the most basic of necessities – shelter. They are looking for the most essential of liberties – safety. They are looking for the most sacred of blessings – serenity in the comfort of a home.

Any refugee seeking asylum could have written that heartfelt letter. The refugees who are being turned away, who are dying – quite literally – in their efforts to find a home, are being turned back to nothing. Their home is gone. When refugees are turned away, we – the countries that are homes by the very nature our liberty – not only deny them the dignity of acceptance but we shirk our responsibility to care for our neighbor. Their blood is on our hands because we refuse to shield them from the sword.

When we turn away refugees, we. are. Assholes. As my mom said about the sellers after reading my heartfelt letter, “If that doesn’t make them want you to have the home, they are heartless awful people, and I’m sure that isn’t the case.”

Many Americans just celebrated Christmas (and/or the War on Christmas). We are told There is a Reason for the Season. That reason started with a young couple looking, if only for the night, a home. Somewhere safe to bring their child into the world. Somewhere that if say, a deranged king was trying to hunt down and kill their child, they would be secure against the danger. The really Christian thing to do is to help people who are looking for home – a safe place to birth their child, a land where their lives are no longer in daily danger, an urban bungalow for robe-wearing. The Christians would want those refugees to have a home. Because they aren’t heartless awful people. Mom is sure that isn’t the case.

 

*Names have been changed

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Jesus, take the wheel. And the windshield.

In Communication, News and Politics, Religion on October 25, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Today, I went to Mass. I had fallen off a bit in my attendance during a low couple of months but my priest (I refer to him as “my” priest, although I’m pretty sure he’s seeing other people*) gave me the push I needed to get back in the groove.

*Father PLSJ, please forgive me for that joke.

As usual, the homily seemed to be written specifically for me, because that’s how they work. As usual, I left feeling better. Happier, lighter, more at peace. I was ready to enjoy my afternoon with a little laundry, a little dancing, and probably a nap. As not usual, there was a note waiting for me when I returned to my car.

After the nanosecond of fear that I received a ticket (much like when a police car is behind you on the highway and you start going through your driver’s test handbook in your head, trying to find a law that you are breaking), I got out and grabbed what turned out to be a note.

I can’t tell you exactly what it said. I went back into the church and gave it to my priest (he presided over the Mass). I wasn’t sure what emotion I was filled with – maybe anger, maybe panic, maybe sorrow – but whatever it was, I knew keeping that note would intensify and prolong it.

The gist, however, was that this person was very disappointed that I voted for President Obama (yeah, the sticker is still on my car. Whatevs). S/he wrote how saddened they were by my support for the most pro-choice, something, something, Muslim president ever to be elected. There were a few other sentences about how misguided I was and how they hoped I’d make a better decision in the next election. It was addressed to “Sister in Christ” and signed with a similar vaguely religious but anonymous title.

Putting aside the creepiness of someone who watched me arrive to Mass and then left an anonymous note on my car (the “Sister in Christ” confirmed they knew I was female), I was shaken. I had often joked that someday, the Democratic stickers would result in my car being vandalized when I visited the considerably more conservative town where my parents reside or parked in the parking lot of a church whose parishioners had very strong political leanings. It hadn’t really occurred to me that while parked at a downtown meter outside my (fairly progressive) parish, I would receive a personalized condemnation by someone who considered themselves an authority on WJWD (What Jesus Would Do). It was the first time someone of the same faith had expressed judgment of me. Really – I know that may surprise some who think my wildly liberal views would send lightning surging through my body once the holy water hit my forehead, but this was my first encounter with overt disapproval.

The initial surge of adrenaline that was fueling my anger, panic, or fear has subsided, if not disappeared entirely. I will pray for this person. S/he feels a hollowness in their own faith that must be filled with the damnation of others. S/he is too cowardly to bring their petitions to me face-to-face and have to support their electoral argument. His or her concept of grace is restricted to a box-checking idea of religious merit – that if one votes a certain way or pastes these particular bumper stickers to one’s bumper must be stressful and joyless – rather than the knowledge that grace is extended to all. S/he didn’t hear today’s homily, where Father P’s interpretation of the scripture was that it wasn’t the blind and likely unsavory Bartimaeus who served as the lesson, but the crowd – the followers of Jesus who rebuked Bart and his pleas for help.

Rebuke means to express sharp and stern disapproval because of someone’s behavior or actions. The note of rebuke left on my windshield was probably written in the spirit of good faith. This person thinks they did the right thing. S/he thinks they helped me today. And they did, because I learned that the anger or panic or sorrow that my brain initially signaled to my body’s endocrine system was an extension of the lesson from scripture. While the crowd rebuked Bartimaeus, Jesus called him over and gave him sight, and without the condition of following his teaching. But Bart did follow Jesus. And hopefully, the crowd, and the Note Writer, learns that love, not judgment, is the key to grace.

To the person who left me this note: Next time, speak to me. Put your beliefs in the light and assign yourself to them. If you truly are a follower of Christ, there would be no need to hide behind the anonymity of an unsigned note. You should have the strength of heart to be a true messenger. My prayer for you is that your faith begins to sprout from love instead of the kind of anger only 4-year-old bumper sticker can arouse.

But don’t worry. I won’t vote for Obama again.

P.S. It really is creepy to watch me and leave a note on my car, so let’s just also keep that in mind when evangelizing, ‘kay?

can’t tell me nothing

In Communication, Relationships, Technology on July 21, 2015 at 6:53 pm

I have no idea who reads this blog. I don’t know how many people read it. I know there are analytics and metrics and they are easy to understand, but I just don’t care. I like having people read my writing, but I would still do this if no one read it but me (and my mom, who is contractually obligated to love everything I do). I don’t care how many people follow me on Twitter or Instagram. The threat to cancel subscriptions that would shake the boots of newspaper editorial staffs have lost their power in the age of free information (and free misinformation). I don’t get dollars for followers, so unfollowing, following back, all the status of social media is lost on me.

BUT (I like big buts and I cannot lie – sorry, couldn’t help myself): I am always bemused by the fact that the men I date have one thing in common (and truly only one thing). None of them read (past or present tense) my blog.

It used to bother me – look at this perfectly simple way to internet-stalk/gather counter-intelligence/bask in my brilliance! Men complain they don’t know what women want or what they are thinking, and here I am putting it on this easy-to-read design template. Granted, there are no pictures, but there are at least a couple dick/poop/tampon jokes (that is the grossest collection of slashes ever). And really – if he likes me as much as he says he does, why wouldn’t he support my completely non-profitable venture?

Until a couple nights ago, when I was reminded of the observation that if, for example, you get a rash every time you eat shellfish, maybe it’s not just a bunch of bad shellfish. Maybe it’s you. If you have a lot of friends who take advantage of your time and energy, maybe it’s not that you’ve happened upon horrible friends but because you are attracting them to you. It was time to contemplate why this single similarity tied together the (number redacted because it’s none of your business) men I’ve dated.

My theory about readers developing crushes on my words was confirmed when I wrote a sports blog for cincinnati.com. All of a sudden, emails and Twitter DMs (google it, mom) were pouring in with phone numbers and requests for “just a chat about sports over beers.” If my ego wasn’t already so inflated, I would have been flattered. But I suspected that a crush on my words did not translate to a crush on me. There is a distinct voice to my writing but it’s not necessarily my voice – or at least it’s only a portion of it. This voice is cultivated and uses thesaurus.com regularly and is expressed with an indistinct audience of me (writers write what they want to read) and a nebulous population of at least semi-anonymous readers in mind. My words are an orderly collection of sentiments meant to entertain.

But me? I’m not orderly at all. I’m chaotic and messy and mercurial, not just by diagnosis but by temperament as well. It’s not just my moods that ebb and flow and rise and fall. My house is usually a mess; my playlist goes from Kanye West to Conway Twitty; I’m alternately sentimental and emotion-phobic. In the words of Walt Whitman,”Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself; (I am large, I contain multitudes).” There is a dialectic of complicated simplicity to my nature that results in great frustration but, ironically, comfort, since all of those Jenga pieces still fit back together even after they splay over the game table.

I can’t be sure, but I’d like to think that the men I date like me, the person, and my writing doesn’t have the reckless quality of my human form. There’s something to like – something he has to like – about my agitated life that wouldn’t be sated by a few hundred words every few weeks or months. And even if he was a faithful follower, there would be a discomfiture between the woman he knows and the words he reads… an uncertainty that sometimes confuses even me.

Then again, maybe dating me is more than enough exposure to theworldofdale. In any case, it means I get to write about them and they’ll never know.

yes. women are funny.

In Communication, Relationships on July 8, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Another white man is talking about the rare and elusive “funny woman” (as the endangered beast is commonly identified). It’s happened before and if you don’t know about the instances to which I’m referring, let me summarize: women aren’t funny. beautiful women really aren’t funny. funny women aren’t beautiful.

I tend to ignore this noise because I only care about if people personally find me funny and if their brand of comedy is Jeff Foxworthy or Dane Cook or whatever that shit is that Chuck Lorre makes, then I’ll go ahead and let them be wrong in their own little world.

But I’ve broken my silence because widespread falsehoods are a pet peeve of mine. A former boss described me as having a justice gene – I can’t just sit by and let things go to shit without trying to do something about it. The good news is that my justice gene is easily sated and a blog post is sufficient to quiet the hungry growl of integrity tying knots in my stomach.

Women are funny. Funny women are beautiful. As a stand-up junkie, I’m well aware of stunning comics like Nikki Glaser, Jen Kirkman, Aisha Tyler, Kelly Oxford… you get the point. These are gorgeous women. If you just saw pictures of them, you’d think, wow, that chick’s hot. They could model. And for the benefit of the Adam Carollas of the world, these are your societal beauty standards examples. There are plenty of other gorgeous stand-up comics, writers, and performers.

Beautiful women are funny. Read an interview with Mila Kunis, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick… these women, known for making us mere mortals wear paper bags over our heads in deference, are hilarious. I would gladly friend-date any of these women and totally forget that they have the freakish beauty normally associated with exotic flowers or a Jaguar C-type.

After much contemplation as to why the concept that women aren’t funny has become so prevalent, I was hit with a eureka moment.

It’s not that women aren’t funny. It’s that men don’t like women to be funny.

The theme of most “women aren’t funny” arguments is that women like different kind of jokes. Softer, gentler jokes, with a story and the humor of a sly pun or unexpected irony. Women, it seemed, just weren’t capable of what’s actually funny. The kind of funny that only men can produce: dirty jokes. In the world of stand-up, it’s called working blue. Andrew Dice Clay (incidentally, one of my mother’s favorite comedians) is the personification of blue jokes. When people say women aren’t funny, they mean they aren’t blue-funny.

Men don’t like it when women are blue-funny. They don’t like it when they are blue at all. Women aren’t supposed to be graphic. They’re supposed to be demure. They are supposed to perform the soft, soothing comedy of food jokes (see DeGeneres, E. & Poundstone, P. – who are excellent and hilarious, by the way) that the audience is comfortable with – because a lot of women don’t like women working blue either.

We are at a point in America where a woman can be required to endure a trans-vaginal ultrasound to undergo a private medical procedure and, at the same time, saying tampon in mixed company will result in a male cringe registering 7.0 on the Richter scale. We are at a point where merely mentioning that I was on the toilet when I hit my head on the sink left the men in the room shuddering at the thought of a female expending waste. My sense of humor is blue with a side of black (there’s some dark, sick jokes that roll around in my dirty little brain). I see firsthand, albeit on a much smaller scale, what Amy Schumer encounters – the discomfort with an attractive woman who swears like a sailor and confesses sins as a raconteur instead of a shamed heathen.

Men have long been unable to bear the burdens women encounter daily. I’ve watched grown men physically fight over one yelling across the street at the other, but when the guys across the street advise me that they like me better when I’m thick, I move on with what is a regular day. Men can rarely withstand the onus of emotions, so they compartmentalize them into the office, the gym, the bottle, the laptop – whatever is convenient and accommodating of their immersion. The way men complain about a kidney stone indicates they have forgotten that there are women doing essentially the same thing EVERY DAY in order to CONTINUE HUMAN EXISTENCE. But by all means, tell me more about your urethra rock.

I’ve sat at many a table filled with women telling side-splitting stories about every filthy topic you can imagine and many you can’t. The games of “Would You Rather?” I played with my grad-school girlfriends would shock & awe Howard Stern. At long last, Bridesmaids and Inside Amy Schumer are among the beacons of hilarity in the testosterone pool of blue-funny. Society is finally coming to terms with the fact that women poop. We are tiptoeing cautiously into the nearly infinite world of ridiculously sublime tales of sexual absurdity.

We have reached the edge of the bonfire where I told the guys who couldn’t handle my whiskey my favorite joke:

Three tampons are walking towards you. Which one talks to you – the one on the right, the one on the left, or the one in the middle?

None of them. They’re all stuck up cunts.

same love

In News and Politics, Relationships, Religion on May 23, 2015 at 5:32 pm

If you’ve read more than three posts on this blog, I’d first like to congratulate you on being part of such an exclusive group. Secondly, you may have noticed that a lot of post titles are music-related. It didn’t start out as a conscious decision, and it’s still not a rule so much as a tendency. But this title does refer to a specific song: Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert. It’s essentially a song in support of the GLBTQ community. When I first heard it, it was Mary Lambert’s sweet lilting chorus that hooked me (pun acknowledged, considered, and kept but not necessarily intended).

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

It’s a melodic expression of an age-old sentiment: the heart wants what the heart wants. Everyone who has known love knows the irrationality of it. I know far too many people (myself included) who spent a stupid amount of time and energy on a relationship weaker than the first little pig’s straw house. The frailty might be obvious and insurmountable – the straw house had no chance against the wolf’s inexplicably strong lungs – or it might never be realized – like water eroding the earth until the Grand Canyon reaches depths that far exceed its relatively mild epithet would imply.

The beautiful thing about love is that, like faith, it regularly overcomes the cyclopean odds against it and endures the wind and fire and hangry wolves determined to destroy it. We have as much control over whether we love the same or opposite sex as we do whether we love some asshole who tries to get you fired (you know who you are).

I recently became a Catholic. The why and how and whatnot are for another day. For the purposes of this post, most people are aware of the Catholic church’s stance on marriage equality (they are not in favor). What you might not know is that this judgment on marriage validity is not limited to the Adam and Steves of the world. There are some very specific reasons why the church’s stance on gay marriage is what it is – and they are mostly related to the inability to produce biological progeny. I won’t go into them here because you can look it up yourself on this thing called Google (or Bing, if you prefer your search results identical but further apart).

What interested me as I learned the premises on which the case for which marriage inequality was based, I realized my own (extremely hypothetical) marriage would not be recognized as valid by the Catholic church – and many priests would refuse to perform my ceremony.

Why? Because I do not want to have biological children. I will not be having biological children. There was a time in my life when I planned on a Brangelina-style brood of biological and adopted children who represented at least 5 continents. Life, being the great teacher it is, gave many practical arguments in favor of keeping the doors of my egg store closed, not the least of which is serious mental illness (in fact, it’s probably the most). The interaction of medication and hormones and the physical, mental, and emotional stress of pregnancy made it an easy decision – for ME. Please note, people prone to hysteria, that I am not making a statement on whether women with mental illness should have biological children. As always, I do not give a shit what other people think or do, in the same way I don’t give a shit what other people think about what I think or do.

Because of the motley logic leading to my unused uterus, the Catholic church would not consider my marriage valid – or “real,” as one would say in non-Catholic terminology. My imaginary husband could divorce me and get what is essentially a “get out of marriage free” card from the church – an annulment would be a no-brainer. The reason you get married is to have children. Yeah, it’s also to unify with another human being who you will love and honor through sickness and health, wealth and poverty, good times and bad, but the baby-making is still required. It’s not an either/or proposition.

Is it difficult to belong to a religion that can (and would) refuse to acknowledge a lifelong commitment I made to a man who probably will fart under the covers and leave the toilet seat up and forget to buy bourbon when we run out? Sure. There are other tenets of the Catholic church with which I don’t agree, but just like any relationship, I make compromises and I know the commitment I made on April 4, 2015 will be tested like any other eternal promise. I grant the church something that it is sometimes slow to grant to others – flexibility. My faith, like love, will face the obstacles life presents, and against all probability it will prevail.

But here’s the catch – I can still get married legally. I am free to receive all the benefits of marriage – not just the dutch ovens and empty bourbon bottles, but insurance, estate protection, hospital visitation – all the fun, sexy stuff that comes with a government-issued document. This is where my religion breaks my heart – crossing the line between church and state to intervene in what is legally none of its business, but moreover, it opposes the highest and most central of Catholic tenets – human equality, dignity, and love. Losing sight of Catholicism’s strongest belief – love – has resulted in the promotion of well… not love. And that, unlike love, can change. If it could, and if it would, it can change.

__

Postscript:

As I completed this post, the shuffled playlist on my iPod played “I Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons. Not as prophetic as if “Same Love” had come on, but it still seems appropriate.

__

Post-postscript:

If you’re wondering if I wrote about gay marriage before, I have, although even I don’t remember writing it. The best thing about a horrible memory is re-reading things like it’s the first time… even when you wrote them. I also remembered my previous blog, which if I was the ambitious sort, I would import into this one or however computers and websites work.

the least snarkler post ever

In Home on February 14, 2015 at 1:22 pm

This has nothing to do with anything I ever write about. But a friend asked for advice about buying used, I mean pre-owned, I mean vintage furniture. Once I wrote it all out, I thought maybe it was helpful to other people. Enjoy:

Craigslist is nice because you can see stuff from home and they usually provide the dimensions so you can measure to see if it will fit before buying. You can also usually barter on the price. Downside: sometimes the seller is far away, and you have to be prepared right then to pick it up in whatever vehicle you can wrangle. Also, with furniture, people usually want you to come to their house rather than load it up themselves to meet you, so be careful and bring someone with you, meet in a public, well-lit place (grocery store parking lots during the day are a good option). Lastly, items on craigslist tend to be overpriced. People’s emotional attachment and skewed sense of their own frugality means they often price things unrealistically (I’ve seen people price IKEA stuff OVER the price of IKEA because “they put it together for you”). However, there are still great deals to be had, even from dealers. PS – some sellers will offer delivery.
Vintage stores tend to be the most expensive – since it’s their specialty, they know the value of items. BUT they will usually price good-quality items that have been made over super-ugly at a good price because their customers tend to not have the imagination to see what could be done with a piece beyond the current ugly. There are also some smaller stores that have to keep their prices competitive with bigger shops, and there’s the possibility of bartering with them.
Goodwill/Salvation Army/St. Vincent de Paul are usually the cheapest options. They don’t have an emotional attachment, and they are non-profits. There are days where everything is half-off… I got that blue chest of drawers for $12.50 because it was half-price day. If you pay at the time, you can usually pick it up within 24 hours so you have time to get help with transport. You can also trust to buy upholstered items from these stores because as non-profits, there are federal guidelines, including the professional cleaning and guarantee of items being free from bedbugs/fleas/etc. However, the selection is limited and varies from store to store. There is a Salvation Army furniture store in Norwood and I can give you some specific locations that are good to go for furniture. In addition, they are less likely to have quality items. There are some gems, but there’s a lot of particle board.
The ReStore stores, which are run by Habitat for Humanity. Around Cincinnati, there are locations in Bond Hill, Hamilton, Cheviot, and Florence. You can see some of their stuff online (and on craigslist) and it’s generally more commercial stuff but there are some really good deals. I got a bathroom cabinet for $20. They are also good for “character” salvage parts that you can add to other plain furniture for interest.
Trader’s World/flea markets: I got an amazing horizontal bookcase for $24 at Trader’s World and if I had the money, I would have gotten a spectacular steamer trunk for $60. You have to wait for spring for these because most of the furniture vendors stay outside.
Side of the road: I have gotten some of my best stuff as roadside pickups, including a chair that is a vintage model by a famous designer – a furniture company recently released a line of reproductions of it and they sell for about $1000. Finding out what day trash day is and doing drive arounds is the easiest window shopping you can do. Cincinnati-wise, Avondale, Clifton, Northside, and Walnut Hills are particularly good for curb pick-ups. Some curb items are also listed on craigslist. Be prepared to get in the car right away, because if they are advertised, they go quickly.
Yard Sales: Again, seasonal, but often advertised on craigslist with some pics of the furniture. They have some of the best deals you’re going to encounter.
The best advice is to be open to what comes to you and let people know what you’re looking for. Some things were gifts from friends (or trades); some were something I found out about from a friend, so let people know you’re looking if they know of someone who has something you need (or if they themselves do). You never know unless you ask!

Back to snark and sparklers next post.