Free Fruit

Somebody gave us a box of oranges -- that's what people do in California! Give each other free fruit and wait for tourists to ask us for directions to the beach. So someone gave Jack this box of oranges and said, "They're juicing oranges." I looked at them very carefully but the only clue that they weren't fit for straight eating was that they weren't all-the-way-around orange. In fact I'd go so far as to say they were partially green, which seemed kind of a racist way to divide oranges into "eating" and "juicing." But when I finally peeled one to eat I discovered that it also had seeds, so I guess America wants its eating oranges to be sexless and monochromatic and then we feed our despicable seeded multicolor breeding oranges into industrial juicers and to hell with them. 

(As an aside, I prefer my orange juice to be pulp-free in my little evening cocktails* but there's an old market by the beach that is my number one destination for fresh-squeezed daytime orange juice because I'd swear they just throw the oranges in whole, peel and seeds and all, there's no other way to account for how three-dimensional it tastes.)

* Half orange juice, half fizzy water of choice (Pellegrino for those who like a less-aggressive bubble), and one shot of Hornitos tequila, served over ice in a clean glass and stirred with a room-temperature spoon

So Peewee's had a rough ride this month. He's turning eight in September, which for bulldogs is like, "Welp, I guess he'll be dead soon." He's been slowing down some, and we thought he was gaining weight due to his longstanding refusal to walk more than half a block in any direction, but when I took him in for a check-up the doctor ended up taking 3.2 liters of fluid out of his abdomen. So my dog wasn't fat, he was just turning into a stoic, furry water balloon.

Black is so slimming.

The doctor wanted to see him for a follow-up a week later, where he pulled out another 1.5 liters of fluid. Peewee is now so fluid-free I can feel his spine. I'm taking him back next week just to make sure we've got his meds sorted out (we've upped his diuretics and his kidneys seem to be able to take it), and when I do I'm imagining driving home with a sentient bag of organs that growls when you play tug with it.

Wrapped up like a birthday present.

Honestly, we all expect to wake up one morning and find him dead. We will then go through an appropriate period of mourning and then the plan is to get a dog AND a cat so they can be friends, but it's hard to think about that when the Wee is begging for half of my ham sandwich or snoring softly on the floor with his paws tucked under his chest. 

Oh, Peewee.

Perhaps because of all this I have become unaccountably attached to an Instagram account for a rescue in L.A. called Road Dogs, and when the woman who runs it asked for help running her Twitter and Pinterest accounts, I waved my hand in the air and said ME ME ME, PICK ME. So I'm here to ask you to follow Road Dogs on Twitter and Pinterest for lots of heartwarming rescue success stories (and the occasional, "Wow, people suck."). 

With Jackson going into high school (I KNOW, IT'S CRAZY, HE'S A FRESHMAN) and my novel finally being sent off to be read by The People Who Could Change My Life, it felt like high time for me to work full-time once again, thank you, Craigslist. So I put on my cherry-red Fluevogs and went interviewing. The first job I interviewed for was to be my own boss, i.e., supervisor of the branch I've been working at for five years already. I will frankly tell you that not getting chosen for that hurt, but it would have hurt a lot more if the woman they chose instead of me was doing a terrible job, which she isn't, she turned out to be the better choice, I am sort of weirdly pleased to say. So that sucked for a week or so and then I got over it, but then I still needed to find another job. I applied for some part-time jobs in the hopes that I could stay at the library and work two jobs, but nobody called me back so I went and found one, single full-time job that I will tell you more about once I start. I am very sad to leave the library (very!) but I'm looking forward to being able to walk to work, unless we up and float away when El Niño hits this year (which is predicted to be like "a river falling from the sky"), in which case I might spring for a bus pass so Jackson and I can slosh to the bus stop together in the morning and then take off in opposite directions toward our new adventures.

Close to Home

I had an unexpected reaction to the shooting that happened a week ago out at UCSB. I spent all last weekend reading all the articles and opinions and tweets that ran past me, and none of it was good news, but the thing that finally got me was when I went to work Tuesday morning and heard that one of our patrons claimed that the shooter had been hanging around the library the last few weeks. "Didn't you recognize his car? It was out in the lot all the time." That was some chilling news. And of course, it was possible to imagine a black BMW parked just about anywhere if you wanted, this is Santa Barbara, black BMWs are as common as frisbees. I don't ever remember seeing the guy's face, but sometimes people sit out in the lot in their cars before we're open and after we're closed, just to use the wifi. It's possible one of them was him.

So I don't know if the patron who claimed the shooter had been that close to us was making up this story just to claim his own piece of the drama, or if he really saw the shooter, or what. I do know that anyone can come to the public library and most of our patrons are interesting and kind and grateful for what we provide. Underneath that, I've learned that some of them are terminally ill, and some of them are mentally ill, and some are homeless and some are the most polite racists I've ever met, and I do my best to treat them all the same.

Of course, this shooter who felt bullied and ignored, me being nice to him wouldn't have helped. A woman my age would have been invisible to him. But so help me God, this is what I ended up clinging to in the wake of all this: Be nice to everyone. Listen. Be present. Say something funny whenever possible. Help them if you can, and if you can't, refer them to someone who can. Of course, that's my job, but I'm taking it more seriously than ever right now.

It's not a philosophy that will bring any of those kids back to life, and I don't know if it will prevent any more from dying, but at least it helps me feel like I've done my best by whoever shows up in front of me. And I refuse to live in fear of any of these gun-obsessed assholes.


On a brighter note, one of my friends from college died this month, and there's nothing like one of your peers taking off for points unknown to make you wonder if you're secretly growing a tumor or two of your own. I was commiserating with another friend who was in the same class, and we began to marvel at how many people from our relatively small circle at college are dead. Like, out of a loose coalition of 12-15 people, six are dead. Five of them went before the age of 40. One in his 20s, thanks to AIDS in the 80s before all the good drugs showed up. So, take care of yourselves, everybody! The darkness is closing in!


The other weird thing is when a library patron dies. I mean, we work with a lot of old people. You get to know everyone, over time, and what they like to read, or what they're willing to try when they can't find anything they like to read. And then the day comes when you ask your coworker, Have you seen Mrs. X lately? And you check her record and see that she hasn't checked out anything in the last seven months and your heart sinks a little. People have strokes and become homebound, or one of their children comes in and hands us their card and asks us to delete their account. I used to marvel at a sprightly 99-year-old who used to come in every few days. He stopped coming in at some point, maybe I was on vacation or I just didn't really notice, it's not like I have a checklist although maybe I should. And then last week, seemingly overnight, another one of our regulars stopped being the guy who always brought us jars of homemade jelly at Christmas and turned into a thank-you note from his wife telling us how much he loved the library.


May is fucking beautiful in Santa Barbara, these jacaranda trees bloom with purple flowers all over town and it's heavenly. Unless you park under one and your car gets covered in smelly, sticky, godawful blossoms that ruin your paint. But apart from that: so beautiful! Here's a picture! Cheer up! Would you look at that!


One-item lists

After I made my big declaration about how Facebook is stealing our souls, I then spent the next two days posting things and chatting on Facebook like nothing had happened. I believe I can find a balance between this and that, but at the same time I'm concerned with the self-sabotaging psychology that kicks in, for example, when as soon as I decide to stop eating sugar, I make a big pan of brownies. I don't even tell myself not to spend money anymore or this will happen:

[via dh]

If that isn't the best video I've seen all summer I'll eat my grandmother's vintage cat's eye glasses. After watching it about six times Saturday night Jackson was all, "Are there any thrift stores around here?" Oh, my son. The golden days of thrifting in Santa Barbara are behind us now, but there still exists a magical town ruled by bikers and street people called . . . Ventura. So Sunday we drove down to the Goodwill in Ventura and bought Jackson a pair of red plaid pajama pants, a green and white striped hooded sweatshirt from the women's rack, a couple of white t-shirts, and we rescued a Build-a-Bear rabbit with floppy ears for .99 that doesn't appear to have lice, fleas, or bed bugs. I bought a pair of ballooning, high-waisted purple wool lady pants that are going to look pretty awesome somehow once I wrap my mind around what to wear on top. If I could find a cropped brown rabbit's fur jacket . . . I wouldn't buy it, but you hear what I'm saying.

Another crush, with free association:

1. Alan Arkin: because of how sexy he is when he's disgusted

Phrase from a comment on an old post that has stayed with me for years:

1. "Away-game pooping situation."

So along with opening back up to the Internet, I'm also trying to be more approachable in real life. I guess I'm an introvert, but I like being around people who are more open than me because they help me connect to that part of myself that doesn't see closeness as a threat. (I once had someone who knows about these things tell me that two lives ago I died by being drowned; as in, someone either held me down or pulled me down or I don't know what, but he was all, "Do you have trouble when people get too close? Because that would explain it." Holy shit, how do I get over that?)

Certainly the thing about working with the public is that every new patron is an opportunity to practice small, non-life-threatening connections. Most people seem to want that, which means at the start of every shift I unpack all of my extrasensory satellite dishes to figure out how best to make that happen. Some people, however, want a larger amount of connection, more connection than I am capable of (or paid to) provide as a public servant. Emotional vampires, in my experience, come off as super-extra friendly at first. Their requests start off normal, but somewhere along the line they try to lure you into the enchanted forest of weirdly-specific things most people don't normally ask others to do for them. "Will you text this 16-line e.e. cummings poem to my friend in Las Vegas?" happened recently, as well as "Will you read the descriptions of forty different children's books to me, both over the phone and in person the next day?" and  "Will you build a web site for me in Wordpress?"

And I think, what is up with you? What is it? Just tell me. Is it that you get off on me touching your stuff? You're lonely and want me to keep you company? You disagree with the concept of outsourced tech support so you'd rather take advantage of my limited skills?

There's a great part of "Words of Advice" by William S. Burroughs that applies:

"If, after having been exposed to someone's presence, you feel as if you've lost a quart of plasma, avoid that presence. You need it like you need pernicious anemia. We don't like to hear the word "vampire" around here; we're trying to improve our public image. Building a kindly, avuncular, benevolent image; "interdependence" is the keyword — "enlightened interdependence." Life in all its rich variety, take a little, leave a little. However, by the inexorable logistics of the vampiric process they always take more than they leave — and why, indeed, should they take any?"

I went into yoga the morning after a particularly lengthy exchange with one of these people and halfway through my practice I was all, "This is crazy, I'm too tired to do any more." And then after sitting there for a minute I realized that my body was strong enough to continue, the problem was that some other, ineffable part of me just didn't have the strength to go on. Once I had that realization, the exhaustion lifted and I kept going, but man. Feeling like you lost a quart of plasma. That's a real thing.

Don't put your finger up your butt to help yourself poop or you'll never be able to stop.

Henry Alford's wonderful essay about his brief stint as a runway model:

"It occurred to me that my lifelong slouchy posture is, in a complicated and wrong way, connected to my hatred of bragging. Somehow in my mind I've learned to equate slouching with modesty."

He then improves his runway walk by imagining he's a former Lufthansa flight attendant who likes vegan baked goods, vintage motorcycles, and Sofia Coppola when she wears aqua in airports. Henry Alford is now my spirit animal.

I love being part of the problem

I've lived in California for more than 20 years now and yesterday I was finally able to admit to myself: I don't ever want to get out of my car. I was at work yesterday and instead of taking an hour for lunch I arranged to take two 30-minute breaks, one at 12:30 to have lunch, and one at 3:15 to pick up Jackson from school. I didn't bring a lunch so I decided to go over to the sandwich shop because they're close, they're cheap, and they're fast as hell. They're cheap and fast because they don't bother with vegetables. You get meat, bread, cheese, something to make it all stick together, and that's it. The first time I went in there and asked for lettuce and tomato on my sandwich, the girl at the counter pointed at the menu taped to the side of the meat counter and said, "No." She didn't say, I'm so sorry for the inconvenience but we only make sandwiches out of things that don't bruise when you drop them. She just pointed to a list of meats, breads, and cheeses and said, "No." NEXT.

The actual point of this story, however, is the fact that the sandwich shop is about 350 feet away from where I work, and I drove to get my lunch. I got in my car, pulled out of the library driveway, turned onto the main road, took my foot off the gas and coasted 40 feet, turned into the sandwich shop driveway, and parked in a spot that had a wonderful view of the bench I would normally sit on while eating my lunch, and you know what? Fuck that bench. Yesterday it was windy and cold and that bench is made out of cement. Did I want to shove my napkin under my leg to keep it from blowing away? No, I did not. Nor did I want a bug to fall into my coke, grizzled pedestrians to veer inappropriately close, or my skirt to blow up and expose my pink thigh-highs to the people staring at me from the warmth of their cars while they ate their sandwiches and wondered what the hell was my problem.

Instead, I bought my Fritos, my Diet Pepsi, and my turkey-on-wheat-with-mayo and then brought it all back to my nice, warm aging-Volvo privacy bubble. I put my soda in my cup holder, balanced the Eastside Branch Library's copy of Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) on the steering wheel, and didn't talk to, look at, or think about any of the strangers on the other side of my tinted windows for 25 glorious minutes. I was so delighted and relieved to finally be vulnerable enough with myself to admit that this was the most relaxing lunch I'd had in years that I don't think revelation is too strong a word to describe my feelings. For so long I'd felt guilty about cutting myself off from the energy of nature or whatever it is hippies say to convince you to get out of your car, take off your shoes, and let the wind blow ecstatically through your hair. Hippies of the world: I love shoes and I don't have that much hair, and the energy of nature is unpredictable. As a matter of fact, it smells like jasmine mixed with B.O.

So, sorry all you city planners who spend your lives sweating over designs for usable, friendly, safe public spaces! Tomorrow I might take my car to the beach parking lot for lunch, and then maybe we'll hit a drive-in this weekend. We can double date with my husband's truck.

The view from the bench, which I could see just as well through my windshield, frankly.

Let's call this Photo Friday

It's Friday! And I spent all day at work getting conflicted every time someone asked How are you? I still don't have the hang of it. I tried taking Scott's advice and just saying Hello in response, but that kept feeling like I was walking off a dock. Like there was supposed to be a boat underneath me but suddenly I was up to my neck cold, fishy water. Then I went so far as to ignore one man who asked me how I was while I was shelving, and then it seem like he recovered by pretending he'd been talking to the New Nonfiction shelf. It was uncomfortable, and I had to make up for it by being extra nice to him at check-out. Finally, at the end of the day, a patron I knew to be consistently super nice came up to the desk and without even thinking about it I blurted out How are you! and she said, I'm fine! How are you!, and she said that even though she had $100,000,000 in library fines, but she made me remember that How are you? makes sense when you really want to know how someone is, or just to hear them talk about themselves for a minute. Some people are just exciting to be around, though I guess if the library has you on the brink of bankruptcy, you might be a little excitable.

The view from the snack bar at Golf 'n' Stuff Ventura, California, December 31, 2011

How are you!

Today was a very, very, very busy day at the library. We'd been closed for three days because of the New Year's holiday, which gave all of our patrons time to read the books they'd borrowed, then scour their own shelves for more reading material, then think about all the books they don't really need anymore, fill several boxes with them, and bring them down to donate to the library. I lifted, scanned, toted, flipped through, checked in, checked out, and redirected all the books today. All of them. In the world. Anything left over was moldy and I recycled it, but if you go through the bins behind our branch you can have them, spider nests and all. You're welcome. The other thing that happened today was people kept asking, "How are you?" On a normal day, maybe three people ask me that, and I say, "Fine. How are you?" But as the day wore on and my mood wore on in an equivalent manner, people kept asking me, "How are you?" like there was something going wrong with my face, and the more they asked the more I wanted to say, "I don't feel like answering that," or "Why do you care?" or "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear you," because I really didn't want to say, "Fine," I wanted them to stop asking. But I couldn't because they were always so nice about it, and filled with holiday cheer. Finally, I just turned my back and started reading a donated Cesar Milan book, because if he could save Banjo the anti-social lab rescue dog from euthanasia, maybe he could save me, too.

I haven't been avoiding you!

I didn't really mean to stop posting at the end of November, I was on a roll! But then December 1 was World AIDS Day, where you're supposed to go silent to honor all the people who've died of AIDS, and then I had to work the next few days in a row, and then bam! I was on a plane to New York reading a book about midwifery and preparing for this: This is the set in Brooklyn where Alice and I filmed the first twelve episodes of MomEd, a new series for cafemom.com. We talked about childbirth and yes, I know we are not childbirth experts, we are fake-childbirth-book-writing experts. Fortunately, not just for us but for everyone who ends up watching these videos, they hired a crack researcher and booked actual experts to sit next to us and tell us how it's done. Saul, for example:

Saul is an actual Park Avenue doctor who performed a c-section on our other guest, Lyss, who's the co-author of If You Give a Mom a Martini (which is not an adult version of the If You Give a Moose a Muffin series, though that might have some potential). Saul wanted to sing show tunes but Alice wouldn't let him! So we talked about c-sections instead.

Whenever we had to start a new take, I'd get my energy up by thinking, "I get to be in a video!" And then I'd go EEEEEEE! in my head and Ben, the director (far left), would smile because he could read my thoughts.

Joe was our prop master and Haley was our logistics coordinator and I'm sorry I don't have better pictures of either of them. The prop baby was just sort of inert after Alice dropped it on its head. Ha ha! Kidding. It was plastic.

We did one episode sitting in a birthing tub with a British person!

We also had to shoot separate footage of Alice and me explaining medical terms. We called these "knowledge transfers" because this was where we transferred knowledge from cue cards to the camera. We are magical conveyor belts of  wisdom.

I know, the cue card guy was cute! I don't know why I look slightly jaundiced here. Perhaps my bilirubin was low.

We shot in the studio for three days and then went out on the street Friday morning to corral Park Slope moms into telling us their birth stories, and may I say that Park Slope moms are uniformly adorable. Every Brooklyn mom we spoke to was cogent, thoughtful, articulate, brave, and humbled by what they went through to get their babies out, and it was an honor to talk to every one of them.

Then I got on a plane and developed a massive chest cold, from which I am still recovering, five days later. I am so happy to be in my own bed, there are no words. And now I'm going to take another nap, the end.

My (Most Recent) Liz Lemon Moment

People often bring donations into the library. I'm used to just saying yes to whatever it is someone wants to give me. If the library can use it or sell it, great. We thank them in our prayers each night before we go to sleep. If not, we hand the person a donation receipt and respectfully lob their spider-infested magazines into a recycling bin. Today a guy came up to the counter and said, "I'd like to donate these pens to the library." Then he pulled the contents of my mother's kitchen junk drawer circa 1979 out of his pocket. He had everything from dull little golf pencils to promotional medical ballpoints, and there might have even been an old Flair in there, though I could have been expecting one so much (my mom loved Flairs) that I imagined seeing one.

"Well, thank you!" I said, starting to bunch them all together and wrap a rubber band around them.

"Okay, you're welcome. I'll just take some of your pens now," he said, and he started to pick through the flower pot on the counter that we keep our pens in. "I want some black ones."

Now, what would you do? Because there was not a shred of doubt in my mind that the answer here was No, you cannot help yourself to whatever you like just because you think it's an even trade that you just invented and then sprung on me before my tea was ready.

"No," I said.

"What?" he said. "Oh, uh, you . . . use the black ones?"

First of all, what place of business can you ever go into and swap your old, shitty pens with? Especially a place that's barely staying open due to budget cuts. Second of all, just no. If he had said, "Hey, I need a black pen, could I swap you?" I probably still would have said no, but there's a small chance I would have considered it. Looking back, I'm sort of sorry he got me at the counter instead of one of my warmer and more generous coworkers. With me, he'd have had more luck just asking to borrow a pen and then leaving with it. I imagine he wanted to avoid that black mark on his karma, but at least he wouldn't have had to withstand me treating him like a kindergartener.

However, while he was still standing there wondering what to do next, I looked over the pens he'd "donated" and saw a black one he'd missed. It did cross my mind for just a moment that he had no need for black pens at all and I'd caught him in the midst of a deadly ruse in which he'd infected the pens with anthrax as a way to protest recent fee hikes.

"Here, take this one back, it's black," I said, not unkindly.

He took it. I didn't want to shame him, and I understand times are hard, but I am neither mentally nor emotionally flexible enough for spontaneous bartering.

Although last month I let another guy take two used red Sharpies, but he gave me a dollar for them.

and it's also true that I lost the map

First of all, if you're actually visiting fussy.org and not reading this through a feed reader, you'll have noticed two new badges up in the sidebar. One is for The Popcorn Whisperer, the weekly movies-and-TV column I'm doing for Babble, where so far I have covered such pertinent subjects as The Smurfs Movie, Midnight in Paris, The Silence of the Lambs, Jaws, and a round-up of TV dads illustrated with hand-drawn Venn diagrams. The other badge in my sidebar leads you to Faking It With Mrs. Kennedy, the weekly current events column I'm doing for The Stir. So far I've written two things there: "Which world leader is the angriest THIS week?" and a thing about Andy Rooney retiring, and it seems I'm trying to become the next Gail Collins. The learning curve is steep, but I may finally have learned to balance serious news and irony by around 2013. If they don't fire me before then, I'll keep you posted on my progress. You may also notice that my hair is two different lengths in my two sidebar masthead badges. This is because one photo is newer than the other, and reflects the fact that my hair, like the times, it is a-changin'. Yes, I am once again taking daily photos of my hair's progress but I'm doing it secretly, using an app called Everyday, which means that eventually I'll be able to post one of those movies of my head where the background keeps changing and I'm slowly growing a beard. Although as hard as I have tried, beard growth still eludes me, I've had some success with head growth. I'm finding it's easier to do without the daily scrutiny of the Internet, however.

Crazily and on short notice, I flew to New York last week to shoot a video with Alice, M.J. Tam (who I kept calling DJ Tam, like she was toting a crate full of vinyl to the club), and one other secret special person sitting in a hot room with three cameras on us while we had a series of occasionally disturbing and amusing conversations sponsored by Clorox. Clorox scared up a nice lunch for us, too, and put me up in a decent hotel that happened to be a block-and-a-half away from the Carnegie Deli. (Did you know that the Carnegie Deli is open from 6:30 a.m. until 4:00 a.m. every day? I don't know what they do with their 90 minutes of down time. Maybe they have a Bleach Break™.)

So I flew into New York on Sunday, we did the shoot on Monday, and on Tuesday morning I was flying back to California but I didn't hear my alarm go off because I'd been up too late the night before*, but I magically awoke at 7:11 a.m. Since my ride to the airport was leaving at 7:45, I threw on some clothes and ran to Seventh Avenue.

*Jackson, who was home with a babysitter because Jack has an ongoing gig Monday nights in L.A., was having trouble going to sleep, so he sent me a series of sad text messages without really thinking through the whole three-time-zones-away thing. And really, when you're ten years old and you miss your mom, you don't care that she has to get up in less than six hours to catch a plane to come back to you.

I had promised Jack I'd buy him a t-shirt from the Carnegie Deli, but while I was there I got another idea.

Jack is the only person I know who would actually entertain the idea of a pickle-scented candle. But instead, while they were digging for a shirt in Jack's size, I asked the hostess if she thought I could get through airport security with a cheesecake.

"Oh, sure, people do it all the time," she said. "They're frozen." She had a Jamaican accent. She pointed to the deli counter behind me. "Ask him, he'll get one for you."

They had three sizes of cheesecake. The large was the size of my entire carry-on bag; the medium was the size of my laptop bag; but the small was just right.

I'm not sure I've ever seen my husband as happy as he was when I pulled a cheesecake out of my purse.

For Jackson I brought back something fuzzy and green from the J. Crew sale rack:

Hello, nerd boyfriend.

This is probably true

Probably the most useful instruction I've gotten in recent years as a traditionally employed human being who deals with the public is this: "Everybody lies." Especially when confronted, no matter how gently, with a mistake they've made, no matter how small, most people's first instinct is to deny it. When pressed, when confronted with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, some people will then relent and wonder how they could have been so stupid. Yes, of course, I guess I did keep that library book an extra day; Oh my God, I did bounce that check, how thoughtless of me. And some will admit fault while still keeping the flags of denial at half mast: "Well, yes, I was wrong, but here's why I couldn't get back to the library/bank/store within 30 days to return this dress I'm going to pretend I never wore . . ." I seem to have an inexhaustible interest in dealing with people in this state, because I do it, too, and I like to watch the shift happen. I like to see it slowly dawn on people's faces that the thing they were absolutely sure of ten seconds ago was completely wrong. I watch it with total compassion because I know how vulnerable it feels to let down your guard and find the truth of a situation in front of another human being. What I used to like about being that witness was the smugness of being right, but now that I'm older I like being that witness because I love being able to refine my ability to be as non-judgmental as I can when she shift from denial to humility happens, no matter which side I'm on. One of us was brave enough to confront the other with a mistake, the other found the strength to hear it, and we found the truth together, oh my God! We did it! And all it cost was my bank's processing fee and a little bit of pride!

I read a great quote the other day in The New Yorker, purportedly from the Torah: "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."

Or, (to paraphrase): A web site is also a mirror: if an ass peers into it, you can't expect an apostle to look out.

The Internet has really gotten me down lately, watching some people try to talk about their lives in an interesting way and then watching other people come along and pick them apart like they're doing the world a service for treating someone like shit. It makes me feel terrible. I happened to find a post written by someone (person A) I'd met last year and who seemed nice enough, and this post contained terrible thoughts about someone I consider a friend (person B). Person A's utter lack of self-awareness really troubled me, and I didn't know how to process her shrieking about person B. I unfriended A on Facebook, which is pretty much the weakest way to protest anything. When I woke up at 1:00 a.m. with a headache, I thought about it some more and then that still, small voice inside me woke up and said, Let's throw some love at the problem.

Years ago I read about a study focused on schoolchildren and expressing anger. It turned out that encouraging child A to voice his anger at child B (who'd been instructed to do something bothersome) actually amplified child A's aggression, and the children's relationship with each other rarely recovered. Child B could never un-hear the mean things child A had said to him. But the children who were encouraged to express themselves more calmly toward the bothersome classmate, or to wait until the classmate stopped doing the bothersome thing, were able to preserve their relationships or even go on to become friends.

I'm looking for a way to wind this up without boring yet another reader to death.

1. Everybody lies, but 2. Kindness leads to 3. Honesty and 4. True friendship, 5. Kumbaya.

Here are some birthday outtakes of Jackson and me resting up after our walk downtown to the candy store last week.

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