darkly comedic relief

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I've had several triggers pulled this past week, and a mini-rant is popping out here, unbidden, surprising, but here nonetheless. Forgive me if it seems like small potatoes in your world (you do seem to have signed up for it, though I imagine your life looks much different from this end than it did from 30 years down history's barrel), but I never get truly used to this sort of thing.

Three days ago, I come into work with a message to call the editor of a very popular local paper, "The Comic News", about something their local gossip columnist is getting ready to print about me.

Experience with a smallish town's idea of publicity over the last 12 years has not been something I've particularly enjoyed, so I get a bit of a sinking feeling.

Now, I suppose some folks would say that any publicity is good publicity but 1) I'm publicity averse (shy, though most folks don't recognize it), 2) ever since I was a tiny girl, people have - for some very obscure reason - enjoyed talking about me, 3) I hate being misunderstood and almost always am, and 4) it's all just none of their damned business, darn it. Besides, I'm not yet in a personal position to profit in any way from that publicity adage, so I can do without the brewhaha.

Unfortunately, none of those things have ever seemed to matter a whit to anyone but myself, and perhaps those around me who suffer the consequences of rumor and innuendo when it results in financial attacks to my business and affects their income or investment, or those personal friends who absorb the crunch of my hurt feelings (less often today, and not the hurt feelings - just the projection onto, or expression of, the unexpressed feelings to my friends because now it seems better to deal with it inside, and spare others, excepting yerself, the moan of it all.)

Luckily some years back the main newspaper, the Register Guard, enacted a moratorium on writing about our 'hood and me. It's a too long story, but thank god I stopped being a regular topic for the thousands, and simply have to put up with a small - but close - minority that likes to chew up its own

So, the Comic News - about the only rag in town, (other than various McAnarchist zines, radio shows, and community tv rants, who once loved to hate me as their favorite local representative of the globalizing corporate oligopoly slowly grabbing the turf of the world, one natural food store at a time) - that sees fit to write about me with any regularity (and I don't know what *that* says about either their target market, or me as a target) has found a newsworthy item in my new choice of a downtown living space.

This is news?

This is comic?


I haven't read the Comic News' column yet, but I hear there's some announcement about me moving "in from the country" (I've been here a year and a half), and moving into the urban core for sustainability purposes.

Criminy! Sustainability and resource use is relevant, but merely the maybe-gravy of my action and hardly the intent. Just because I know how to make lemonade now and then doesn't mean I'm chasing down lemons, and I certainly did *not* want to abandon country life for this. And I definitely do not want to start getting looked at again as some sort of poster-kid for what to do...

I actually think the Comic News probably intends well, thinking I'm some sort of perceived role-model for god knows what - maybe I'm just the poor-sot exemplar regularly hoisted on my own contradictions whose discomfort and visible hypocrisy can make everyone else feel less uncomfortable about their own.

The News' is a very good sort who is always working to get us to think and adjust our actions to be a bit less in concert with the more destructive keys of life and I know he means no harm, but being someone who promotes satire doesn't exactly trend him toward treating others gently. And darn it all if I'm not periodically in his sights.

But I didn't move to town in order to do the "right thing." I moved back from the country in part because Douglas wasn't about to move in with me where I was, and primarily because a bunch of McAnarchy jerks attacked me and my business and nearly destroyed what I've put my life into here in town and I had to be here constantly to defend it. I was broke and near bankruptcy; when I appealed for help, this same paper/column was the one that printed a customer's complaint that I was out of line when I said "use us or lose us", on the grounds that my pain should be private.

What I really don't understand is the assertion that - like one business style that loves to socialize costs and privatize profits - modern individuals (and especially small businesses) should socialize profits/gain and privatize costs/pain. I suppose individuals are the needed component of the aforementioned business strategy - we're the ideal place to dump socialized costs.

If they can get us to privatize the absorption of their externalized costs - make us think the business downturn is our fault, and that if we'd just been better business people we'd still be making it today - by creating this class of folk who are resented (business people) and within a stone's throw of the angry hoi-polloi (little business people) then they've mastered the dirty little shaming trick, and played our own individualism card against us. Duh-vide and conquer.

And really, I can't imagine what rocks could be slung over this innocuous little blurb about me, because it's such an innocent thing and shouldn't matter to anyone, but the fact that it's even written about will probably be cannon fodder for someone, somewhere. It often has been in the past.

There are only a handful of people who truly hate me, but boy, they truly hate me - and they like to carry signs, and put up flyers, and write articles, and talk on the radio, and letters-to-the-editor in the name of defending The People, and illuminating the Best Way For Everyone to change the world.

My ideas don't always sit well with them. In fact, just yesterday I was trying to imagine what my best service to humanity could be, and I figured that perhaps loving and influencing an influential member of the board of Dow Chemical to shift to organic agriculture would do more than a million true words to the converted.

The publicity thing has actually been pretty low-key for the past year or so. I've stayed out of the spotlight as much as possible, trying to spare my business all possible repercussions from anything I might say or do, since my staff suffers mightily when I'm attacked.

This has meant (frustratingly!) no overt civic activity for a couple of years, as well. To hear some tell it, I almost destroyed the Lane County Neighborhood Watch 3 years ago, just by signing up and getting elected...for some odd reason I frightened the right-wing militia half out of its remnant wits - the sheriff actually had to come out in public support of the hippie lady against the long-time rural stalwarts (aligned because of history and rhetoric, instead of affinity, because I'm more like them than they could imagine) and it was all hugely surreal.

All this has probably spurred my devil-may-care martini waving. It's sort of hard to get mileage out of dissing me if all I do is ask for another olive and break into song. Maybe this is a defense...at any rate, I'm enjoying this show-time armor much more than rattling the sabres of rhetoric with willfully ignorant unreasonables who have no respect for others. Of course, I don't even mutter in public about this anymore - hence my whiney-girl quiet rag here. Maybe when the Barn sells I'll be able to pull the duct tape off my mouth.

But that's what I meant months ago when I wrote about going into singing because I was so tired of being put into a box that seemed to give people permission to take pot-shots at my lifestyle if it didn't conform to what they wanted to see in a high-priestess of righteous food. I'm a natural sinner. As my heroine Jessica Rabbit says "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

It could get really interesting soon because an agent's coming to my gig tonight who books most of the corporate private parties in the area. I happen to have an act that will probably sell well for her, since guys who don't want to marry the little black dress still like to talk business in front of it, so I'm not sure what I'll do when *this* little dilemma comes down the pike. The other musicians in town can play these gigs with impunity. It will be interesting to see if I'm tendered the same leeway...

I'm really just a little fish, and I'm sick of having sticks poked at me while I'm trying to focus on simply spawning effectively and then dying peacefully. And I know you can empathize because I was doing some browsing this past two weeks, looking into some deeper issues that are shaping my novel along the lines of sovereignty and disclosure, and I ran across the Stahlman/Barlow "debate", if it can be called that.


I know it's old (1997+) - and ironic, too, because this was happening for you at exactly the same time that this same bs was inflaming locally around me. It makes me think very deeply about the wave-forms of thought and action that the Net seems to make more prominent, and takes me back to a lot of writing I was doing in 1997-98.

I took some time to read through a few things you and he wrote, and look forward to discussing some of the points - not that Stahlman made, because as far as I can tell he didn't really make any, and I read real close, amazed that someone could generate that many syllables in direct response to something and never actually even talk about what he claimed to respond to - because Stahlman seems to tap into a vein that does have a legitimate flow to it (and much better explicators).

Which brings me to some of the energy in this writing today (and sorry about the whine of it - I hope it's not too over-the-top, but it is how I'm feeling today, though the venting helps considerably)

As I postulate a future some 40 years off, I find myself trying to describe the landscape of a world that has developed some mechanisms to respond to the well-worn tension of privacy vs. transparency in the post-internet age. I was led to a Brin article or two, as well as some of his thoughts about you.

I dated Brin very briefly, many years ago. I think I was a little too "too" for him. Unfortunately, he became distant and explained it with something about "honor" that I didn't understand and was too young to pursue, though appearing at a convention in LA with a couple of Vegas Showgirl buddies (did you get that photo of Gene Roddenberry and I?) in feathers and not much else probably guaranteed that I was a total embarassment to him, so the distance was certainly understandable. He's a conservative sort. I'm just a conservative wannabe. I'm sure it was a wise move on his part.

I'm not up to speed with the full spectrum of the differences between you two, one that David seems to suggest is present when he mentions distinctions between his "Transparent Society" essay and some of your writings, and I'm looking forward to talking with you about that between neck rubs. Knowing both of you a bit, I actually feel you're quite similar at some inner core layer, so I'm smelling an opportunity here to illustrate the resolution of a principle in my story by way of a metaphor that can ameliorate these apparent opposites, whatever they are.

Back on the home front of what's personal, I'm struck by this tension between transparency and privacy, and I'm left wondering today why I and others are expected to bear some sort of extra burden of scrutiny simply because a handful of individuals project expectations onto us for behaviors or norm-setting (and lordy, I do fall into it, too...) and then have the freedom - and societal permission - to judge and even alter our lives at their whim.

I explain it to myself with the growing understanding that some of us end up carrying the projections of others - that some of us have the sorts of personae that bear these projections, and let people see whatever they need to see to work out their stuff - and that we don't get to choose whether or not we want to do this, nor how.

I tell myself that, in trying to live openly and transparently and honestly, while maintaining an increasing, and not decreasing, personal sovereignty *and* describing the territory as I go along, that I have to accept the consequences of being seen as the consequence of seeing, and the consequences of being described as the affect of describing. I think the only way to hold all of that is to continually practice love. And it takes practice.

I look at my psyche, and see a few calluses over parts of me that I wish were softer. Sometimes these calluses cover my eyes, and I think that I see less sensitively than I otherwise might because I'm tired of being hurt by what I see. That makes a great case for moving toward a world of less pain, doesn't it?

That's why I value this forum of writing to you so highly, because my thorny part isn't the first thing you see of me, and I get the benefit of someone who hears me more fully, and can give me room to be.


And then Nick walks in, and my little spin seems so petty as to be almost useless.

The woman whose daughter he was helping to care for died Tuesday. He described a touching scene, wherein his work that day consisted of being with Asia, the daughter, through a complex set of ritual tasks that her local community (for she was Muslim) had to accomplish to handle the body before sundown properly.

Since he was present early in the household that day, that still left him with the task of straightening her body out of its rigor mortis in the morning hours, for she'd died in her sleep, curled tightly in bed, and we both teared up as he told me of the sobering task of facing and unbinding her physical coil of death.

He looks so good now. I think it's been a very powerful time for him. I am so very glad he came - almost a five year anniversary in a couple of weeks.

And almost that long a period of time that I've written to you. I remember one note you wrote to him back then - April, perhaps...

"So, tell me about your Cynthia..."

I don't know if he ever replied. But I certainly have. I hope that it's been as pleasant for you thus far as it has been for me.

Again, as always, I share whatever clarity the angels allow me to pass onto others. I sincerely hope your time with Lotte is good this next couple of days, and that you accomplish whatever you both need to move on, either together or apart. The discomfort of relationship dissonance is always extremely difficult for me, though some seem fine with it, and so I feel for you and your efforts to bring things into balance.

much, and more than that...

your Cynthia, who is very much enjoying practicing love.

PLUR. Remember PLUR

-- Anonymous, January 12, 2002

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