Friday, September 24, 2010

Not even a mouse

We had only been in bed for about an hour last night when what seemed like an earth-shattering crash made both of us leap out of bed in a flurry of racing hearts and caught breath. We stood in the dark, unsure of what to do. "Hello!" I called, terrified, down the dark hallway into our second bedroom, which has seemed to serve as the locus of our paranoia lately.

The night before, you see, Tom was at school attending a poetry reading and I was home by myself. I discovered that night we have motion censors on both the north and south sides of our house, because they both kept getting turned on. One of them is right outside the window in the second bedroom/office, and the other is right outside our living room windows (which aren't on the front of the house, but the side). I was in our office, on the internet, and noticed the light come on through the blinds. The dogs in the neighborhood were going nuts that night, with constant barking (and there are a lot of dogs in our neighborhood). I didn't think much of it, and eventually it turned itself off. But I hadn't even been aware of its presence until that night, after almost 5 weeks of living here. Probably some random dog walking around, I thought.

A few minutes later I was walking into the kitchen when I noticed another light shining through the blinds of our living room window. I peeked through and saw that we had yet another motion censor on that side of the house, I had also previously never been aware of. This gave me a little bit of a pause, as the dogs were still going nuts all around our house.

Hmmm, I thought to myself, growing a little scared and paranoid. All the blinds in the house were shut, and the doors were locked. I thought about activating the alarm, but didn't. I went back into the office, my skin tingling a bit, and a chill went through me when I saw that the light outside the office had turned itself on again.

Shit. Now what? This boy has seen too many movies. Plus, at the moment we're sharing a car, and Tom had it, so I thought, "What if someone is walking around the house trying to figure out if someone's home?" And lest you think I'm simply paranoid, our neighbors across the street have had their home broken into 3 times in 4 years. Just a couple of weeks ago, the house next door to them had its front door kicked in in broad daylight. Within the past month, 3 other houses within 2 or 3 blocks of us have been broken into. Memphis takes its crime seriously. The dogs were now quieting down.

After several more minutes of hand-wringing, I decided to call the cops. Just, you know, to let someone know I was feeling paranoid, and maybe they could drive through the neighborhood or something. So they ended up sending 2 cars to my house, and they talked to me a bit (which, honestly, made me feel silly, because I hadn't actually seen or heard anything), and they walked all around the house and the backyard. (And I'm pretty sure one of them was Officer Aubrey, but I wasn't sure and it seemed inappropriate to ask. And yes, I sometimes watch that show.)

Obviously they found nothing. But later that night, after I had gone to bed, Tom was still up working and noticed the sensor outside the office turn on yet again. So he left the light on in the office when he came to bed.

So last night, we both crept into the darkness of the living room, huddling together. The kitchen light was on. "Did you leave the kitchen light on?" I asked Tom, as he had come to bed after me. I don't remember his response, but I think he said he did. I called for the cat, but I didn't see her anywhere. One of us reached down and turned on a lamp. Nothing seemed amiss. I walked into the kitchen half expecting there to be a person standing around the corner, having just kicked through our back door. Nothing. And no cat. Door still securely fastened.

So we both crept slowly together toward the back bedroom. I turned on the light. Everything seemed normal.

What the hell was that crash we'd both heard, and that caused us both jump out of our skin from sound sleep?? We were both so confused, and also freaked out.

Then I saw it. I breathed a sigh of relief, and almost started laughing at the absurdity of it. 2 weeks ago (or 3?), I bought a huge, old framed poster of a United States map to hang above the giant empty space of wall above our TV. Well, that had decided after all this time to fall, and simply land, upright, behind the TV and the TV table. We both finally breathed, and found the cat underneath the coffee table. The only other time in my life I'd been that freaked out was when I lived in Dallas and the light fixture in my bathroom fell one night and crashed to the floor while I was sleeping. I was convinced then that someone had broken my back sliding-glass door and was absolutely mortified to walk out into my living room to investigate.

So we both went back to sleep, eventually, after our hearts and nerves calmed down. But even now, in the morning, some of that paranoia still remains. I wonder if this is just how I'll feel the whole time I'm living here. Having your home broken into seems to me just about the most invasive crime that can happen to someone. How can you ever feel safe after that? Frankly, I'd rather be mugged at gunpoint if I had to choose. Let's just hope it never comes to that.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


To prevent myself from writing a rambling, rage-filled rant about how much I hate America and politicians and never want to vote for anyone ever again, including the "fierce advocate" Obama (a post I have already written and prudently sat on before I "published"), I will instead write a small, personal and congratulatory (to myself) post.

I got a job yesterday! And I have to say it was a little bit serendipitous, but it also came about through some deliberate and assertive networking. Several months ago, upon first learning that we were going to be moving to Memphis, I emailed someone at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center to see if they might have any recommendations for any places in Memphis that provide mental health services and were either GLBT friendly, or even specialized in GLBT issues. The man who responded was very nice and forwarded my email to probably 50 people in Memphis, several of whom wrote back to me. One of them was this guy, who wanted to know a little bit more about what I was looking for.

Long story short, we met up after I moved here and had a brief networking interview (well, about 45 minutes), where he got a little more information and said he had a few ideas of how he might be able to help me. Eventually he got back to me and asked me if I'd be willing to come back and meet the other 2 therapists that work there. I agreed, and they offered me a job.

It was a position that they had sort of been thinking about creating for a couple of years but hadn't really bothered. And then they met me and decided it would be "their loss" if they did not utilize me in some way. So I'm coming in preliminarily as an office manager of sorts, but they plan to begin training me in their modalities, and eventually I will get to start co-leading therapy groups and helping to co-facilitate their "intensives," which you can read all about here. I think this will be a very good fit for me. It seems the guy was really looking for someone to mentor, which is great, because I love to be mentored! He also just joined (I can't remember the exact name) the board of the Tennessee Strategic Planning Association for GLBT issues, or something like that. Basically a statewide mental health advocacy association for homos. They're having a big conference in November in Nashville he already said he wants to take me to. Which is super exciting!

So, you see kids, networking can really pay off. I guess especially in a city like Memphis that doesn't get a lot of young, educated people moving in. Mostly moving out. But I think this can be the start of a great relationship and a fantastic opportunity. I start tomorrow!

And speaking of relationships, Tom and I got engaged over the weekend! Also, I've been obsessed with this song for weeks now:

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Inspired by this story of Time magazine accidentally using a 35-year-old photo and saying it was new (of a tornado passing by the Statue of Liberty), I decided to Google tornado pictures, because, you know, I'm kind of a natural disasters geek. Here are some of the cooler ones I found!

The photo in question, from the summer of 1976

A heart-stopping photo of a tornado in downtown Miami in 1997

Iowa City, 2008

Salt Lake City, 1999

Canadian city (I'm guessing Toronto?), 2000

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

There's a calm before the storm

Tomorrow I have a "networking interview" at this place. Last week I had one here, and a job might actually come out of that one. The guy keeps being sort of cryptic about it, but promises to have me back for an official interview in the next few days. Tom sometimes marvels at my ability to cold-call places and ask if I can come in for an interview. It's sort of astonishing, if you actually have the credentials (even though I don't, really) how many places will invite you to come on over. As long as you act like you do, no one really knows the difference, and once you're in the door you can wow them with your smile.

In school they tell us over and over that networking is the key to employment. That was always what people said about the entertainment industry too, except then I felt like "networking" half the time was a code-word for giving someone a blowjob. I'm not really so jaded, but it's certainly a different experience. I also had a real interview on Friday at this place. My second with that company. In the first one, I told the lady I didn't want the job before the interview was even over. Not my bag, counseling gang-bangers, and kids awaiting trial for homicide, rape, and severe physical assault. No thanks. I am very gifted at some things when it comes to counseling, but probably not so much that. The latest interview was to be a counselor to foster kids and their foster parents, which I think is much more my smile. I think that interview went well. I also think, if I may be so bold, that it speaks to my inherent employability at some level if I can forthrightly say in one interview that I don't want the job and then she can recommend me for something else. One thing about the mental healthcare industry is that honesty is certainly valued. And self-awareness.

I also think it's just Memphis. People here are nice. And, I think, sort of desperate for out-of-town blood. In Portland (or even Austin, probably, for that matter) calling strangers out of the blue and asking for 30 minutes of their time would make people think I was creepy and desperate. Or just annoying. I've already made more friends in the 3 weeks I've lived in Memphis than in the 2 years I lived in Portland. That place is already starting to feel like somewhat of a distant memory. Whenever I tell people here where I moved from I get 1 of 2 reactions: a hearty welcome and some warning about the crime but that it's a great city; or a suspicious eyebrow raise and a "Why the hell did you move here?"

Today I went jogging in the old growth forest part of Overton Park, which was lovely, except I almost stepped on a large(ish) snake and subsequently almost had a heart attack. I'm glad no one was around to see me hyperventilating while I waved my hands up and down, muttering "Ohmygod, ohmygod" over and over.

Pretty soon I'm going to start taking some pics of my neighborhood and neat things in the city to post. And our house. That we love.

Also, for some reason (well, I know the reason, but it's complicated) I've been obsessed with this song for, like, a week now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sign 'O the Times

I honestly don't know whether to be excited about all those teabaggers winning their primaries tonight, thereby handily securing those seats for Democrats in November, or to be incredibly depressed because, contrary to what some of you might believe, I do desperately wish the United States had a serious conservative party. Not only because it would make the whole country stronger if we could actually have real, adult debate about important issues (all the Republicans know how to do is scare up fear; at least they seem, for better or for worse, to have mostly moved on from gays being the primary boogeymen in America), but because the Democrats are only marginally serious themselves.

I can't think of another time in my adult life when I actually, fundamentally cared less who actually won in November. The Democrats can also all go fuck themselves as far as I'm concerned, and frankly, I think it might be kind of fun for a couple of those nutbags to win in November. Then, perhaps, we could have the complete meltdown of the Republican party that this country so desperately needs. Then they can maybe rebuild themselves into something useful.

That might also be wishful thinking. Le sigh.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Like mountains beyond mountains

Tonight when I was putting together my shitty new crooked and wobbly metal shelf for my kitchen, and my shitty new wobbly particle board bookshelf to house all of our cookbooks, I got incredibly depressed.

It was a purely existential moment of fleeting despair at how fucking expendable everything feels. I made a commitment recently to only buy old furniture whenever I wanted a "new" piece of furniture. This would mean scouring thrift stores, antique stores, garage sales, etc to find that perfect sturdy old bookshelf to house all of our cookbooks. I love doing that stuff anyway, and finding a cool old table or shelf that you love is so gratifying. (Granted, this has only happened to me once.) But tonight I caved, proving as well how expendable my principles are. Natch.

We went to Target and bought a metal shelf for $17 and the particle board shelf for $20. You can't beat the price at least. But I felt defeated. We've been here almost 3 weeks and really needed this stuff, and I haven't found any suitable, or suitably old, ones. So I caved.

I've never been one of those people who wanted everything in their house to match, or who wanted a bedroom or living room "set." How dreadful. I want everything to be mismatched, and to have been collected, and to have a story behind it, even if it's someone else's story. In short, I want everything in my house to have been found, to have been discovered, to actually have some intrinsic emotional value. Instead I'm buying cardboard shelves at Target that will get thrown away in 2 years and added to all the crap squeezing out all semblance of life that's left on this planet.

Yes, putting together a shelf tonight has thrown me into an incurable depressive funk. It used to be that if you wanted a new set of dishes, you had to save for it, and go to a special place to buy them, and you took care of them, and valued them. I'm not so sure it shouldn't still be that way. I'm not so sure that simply being able to buy whatever we want whenever we want it isn't the whole root problem of everything that's wrong in our world. It's why humans are so unkind: because emotions are expendable. It's why no one values anything: because you can always just go buy another one. It's why we wage unwinnable wars against faux enemies: because resources will always be there forever to be exploited (or at least that's the common line of thought). I'm not convinced the future isn't going to look like the past. We'll probably all have to go back to riding horses and growing our own food and making our own clothes and everything technological will reverse (was that Herman Hesse who wrote a book about that?).

I've been reading the original Dracula by Bram Stoker this week and this afternoon I started to think about how annoying it is that the whole story is told through letters and the character's diary entries. When it then occurred to me that it's annoying because no one communicates like that anymore. No one writes 6-page, eloquent letters to each other anymore. It's a lost art, and the book, though only 113 years old, truly felt like a ancient relic. And then I decided I liked that it was all told through letters and diary entries. No one could write a book like that anymore. Think about it. Who now would write an entire 500-page novel told through snail mail correspondence? No one, that's who, because it wouldn't get published and no one would read it. Or if they did, it would be a gimmick. If anything, in this day and age, I think literature serves a purpose of reminding us how to read something more than 140 characters long.

I'm not saying anything new, I realize that. But I like this stuff.