Saturday, December 12, 2009

Playing fool, to boomer-king

Concerning my despicable boomer "hatred"

Contrary to reports, HTWW does not want to sentence an entire generation to mandatory euthanasia

Judging by the comments thread on yesterday's post, "Curse of the Boomer Hegemony," and some extremely upset and vituperative letters written to me personally, I really hit a nerve with my comments on the generation that supposedly won't let go.

I will cop to an inflammatory headline, but for the record, I am not calling for mandatory euthanasia for baby boomers, nor do I bear them any special ill will. (Andrew Leonard, “Concerning my despicable boomer ‘hatred’,” Salon, 11 December 2009)

THIS is your power, boomers

I really hit a nerve with my comments on the generation that supposedly won't let go.

Supposedly? So the truth is otherwise? They really want to pass the baton onto youth, but circumstances have just determined they have in fact handed them the bayonet?

Indeed, as a 47-year-old born in 1962, I belong, according to some demographic calculations, to the final trailing edge of the boomer generation, although I have always considered myself part of the pitiable "lost" generation, stuck between the boomers and Gen X, with no identity to call my own. But if you want to, consider me a self-hating boomer wannabe.

I don't hate you, I really hate myself: If I make myself seem all small and pathetic, will you promise not to eat me? Note: that slight cut at you in the end, if it catches more than the glimmer I intended, is, again, to be primarily understood as one of the tics born of being so ill-positioned and self-loathing. Take it as evidence your presence is so solid and impressive it draws me -- quite genuinely -- to slide to the side out of snaky deference and take cuts while I can: it's a compliment, really. And please don't press me on this. I know I'm capitulating: I'll lose ALL self-respect if I can't think of myself as slippery in net.

And just to make the point of my last sentence -- "Conspicuous, self-involved consumption abhors a vacuum" -- totally clear: While I can understand why that might sound hurtful to a 55-year-old who has kids in college and is living on the edge of unemployment, my point was actually hopeful, in that it pointed to the possibility of a new generation of Chinese and Indian consumers pulling the locomotive of the world economy, replacing the yeoman efforts of American baby boomers. As long as such consumption doesn't overheat the planet into unlivability, I'm fine with that.

When I referred to laviscious, self-absorbed assholes, you must understand that I was really thinking of you as plowmen, and of others, as engineers, all in train to flex National vitality through girded spending efforts (forgive the evident hyperbole -- it's not as much sarcasm as you might think: I meant it to be largely believed, IN PART because I expressed the plain truth through exaggeration, which I now want to use to help convince you that I'm always at play, and therefore to be believed if I exempt myself from slights made to those whose toes I've stepped on I actually do fear could stomp me out.) The only thing actually really consuming, is the self-consumption arising from being unable to resist in the end wryly implying that your engine of accomplished consumption, still might just -- and this is what I really meant to argue -- be worrisome. You are truly awesome, my lord -- way too big for me! -- but do not know your strength, and its possible implications.


Cider-bourbon braised bacon

Get the rings and the bubbly ready, because you're going to officiate the wedding (Ian Knauer, “Cider-bourbon braised bacon,” Salon, 9 December 2009)

So you're pulling a Good Fellas on the poor Wilbur ...

EVIL DUPLICIOUS MAN: "Guess what little piggie! -- we think you're so ring-ding special, we're going to save your hide and anoint you special!!!"

WILBUR: "Squeel! squeel!"

[Evil despicable man leads Wilbur to "ceremony" room]

REPREHENSIBLE, UNEMPATHIC, UNCARING MAN: "Sorry pig, You shouldn't have been born so tasty sweeeeeet . . ."

["Blamo!" -- as voiced by Marisa Tomei, from My Cousin Vinny.]

[Followed by chef-prepared, Wilbur-bourbon; pig-skin wallets for the best men; and a burp, by reprehensible pig-eating thug-man]

-- FIN --

NOTE: You would have to say that a pig WAS very much harmed in the making of this drama, but he got good press, and should prove good to wear.

Next up!: Vegan meat! -- it'll save them from losing their souls to meat from a vat, and us from more of their blather.

[Followed by vegans being ground up, a la Fargo, and a grand feast, catered by the Obama-loyal, grateful to dispense (with) the untrue.]

Link: “Cider-bourbon braised bacon” (Salon)

Cormac McCarthy U: Come bag yourself some Shakespeare

Call of Duty. Photo by Patrick h. lauke

My "radical living" experiment convinced me that the things plunging students further into debt -- the iPhones, designer clothes, and even "needs" like heat and air conditioning, for instance -- were by no means "necessary." And I found it easier to "do without" than I ever thought it would be. Easier by far than the jobs I'd been forced to take in order to pay off my loans.

[. . .]

I refused to join those ranks. I became a deserter, an eccentric, an outsider. At Duke, I felt like an ascetic in the midst of wealth, a heretic in the Church of the Consumer. I had to hide.

Because I was so paranoid about campus security finding out about my experiment, I kept myself apart from other students. Whenever I did talk with a fellow classmate, I found myself souring the conversation with preposterous lies -- lies I'd tell to protect myself. Whenever someone asked me where I lived, I'd say "off campus," or I'd make up an address before changing the subject. I found it easier to avoid people altogether.

[. . .]

While I have plenty of good things to say about simplicity, living in a van wasn't all high-minded idealism in action. Washing dishes became so troublesome I stopped altogether, letting specks of dried spaghetti sauce and globs of peanut butter season the next meal. There was no place to go to the bathroom at night. I never figured out exactly where to put my dirty laundry. Once, when a swarm of ants overtook my storage containers, I tossed and turned all night, imagining them spelunking into my orifices like cave divers while I slept. New, strange, unidentifiable smells greeted me each evening. Upon opening the side doors, a covey of odors would escape from the van like spirits unleashed from a cursed ark.

But no adventure is without bouts of loneliness, discomfort and the ubiquitous threat of food poisoning. I loved my van. Because of it, I could afford grad school. So naturally I was nervous as I listened to the security guard's weapons jingle as he ambled by my windshield.

But he just kept walking. (Ken Ilgunas, “I live in a van down by Duke University,” Salon, 6 December 2009)

frontiersmen as men-of-letters--or was that just Northern Exposure?

Do your grad school papers reek of beaver stank? Was the paragraph ahead an adversary, the one past, a trophy kill?

Rather than go 2001 cavemen -- BEFORE they found fire -- we would do better to BUY the ipod, go itunes U, and enjoy our free education ... with a drop of brandy.

Best to you, but you'll need a few years of recoop, in the spa. Actually that's probably what we all need . . . hopefully Obama's got that on his agenda.

- - - - -


I talked about it! Itunes U -- it's free! I already have 11 degrees, from all the best profs from around the world! May never really get credited, unless they figure out some way to scan my head and say, yep, he's real smart!, but real university attendance is so stressful it drops you down the evolutionary ladder, even if still helps you along the corporate one.

That's too cute. It gives you PTSD. You go lupine, even if you don't grow fur. Canines chunking down the curriculum, but just as ready to dig into your own skin, so you're always on the ready. Humanities -- fuck. The best capture of this is a 30 second bit in "Accepted" when Bartleby visits the real university to see his girl, and the essay by Deresiewich.

- - - - -

The good news is that the best education, i.e. the most valuable education this guy is getting is how to survive on less. When the lights start to go out; all over the world, those skills will come in very handy.

Who knows how to cook a meal on a gas stove anymore let alone trap a rabbit, skin it, cook it and eat it?

The oil is half gone, and in the future we are all going to have to learn how to live using just a fraction of the energy that we use now. Ken is leading the way.

The average single family home was 2,349 square feet in 2004, that takes a lot of energy. That energy has to come from somewhere, and right now that's the middle east. America's thirst for energy from oil, is one of the root causes of war. (Bill Owen, response to post, Ken Ilgunas, “I live in a van down by Duke University”)

Cormac Macarthy U

Yeah, let's train our kids so they're ready for fracturing of America, the clash of civilizations, the environmental collapse. They'll be all jacked up on mountain dew --not the best neurochemical mix for contemplation, but I've seen Gladiator et al. and know the first to go is always the liberal arts "professor," who, despite all evidence, thinks life's about peace, solitude, friendship, and soul. Heck, his/her excess brains and lack of response-readiness make him/her sure zombie meat anyway, so maybe sooner rather than later we should think of using him/her to shore up our own body fat. Maybe if we all start skinning rabbits, the more sensitive and weak amongst them will see where we're going and nobly sacrifice themselves, in hopes the rest will find some wry way away.

- - - - -


Some of us don't want people to take a Call-of-Duty approach to university. There are times when people go off the grid, and despite the debris, it still smells of flowers. Dillard's stuff can still read like that. Whole Earth Review still reads like that. Makes you more soulful, and more truly civilized. Here we get the Call of Duty ethic, cloathed in Thoreau. It is about bagging the biggest buck, survival of the fittest, pretending that the worst thing in the world is the current conditions (which it is) when you're in fact using it to enable your own self-narratives, to legitimize as desperate and necessary a regressive course (engage the fear!) you clearly prefer to be on (as someone below pointed out). Someone else referred to Wendy and Lucy. See that film for a strong sense of this truly being exactly what we should want to avoid. It'll have us either joining the packs, or clinging to moribund Great Books for some sense of the lasting, at the cost of self-development and a worthy future.

What I would like to see here at Salon in the future are stories from people who go OFF university altogether. I think the time is near ready for it, because I think that some of the most sensitive, most genuinely curious, just won't be able to take much of the university atmosphere as it is right now. If they have the strength to find one another -- and this is key -- it is probably in their best interest to form something on their own. For the longest time, regardless of the state of the universities, the best still went there (though I agree with those who argue that their journey-of-the-soul approach, ensured they never made it to the ivy-leagues). I think we're at the point, though, of "what the hell else is there?" After all, if you go to university and everyone there is thinking career while you're still hoping soul, the company you keep might just deflate and estrange more than it invigorates and "accompanies." Could be like Goethe and court.

Make itunes U your friend. Leave grades behind; leave large lecture rooms behind. Adults ARE closing in on you -- sadists strangling the struggling child -- but please find your own way through without becoming bullets and armor.

- - - - -


The Duke part of the story is crucial. It's about aura, the woodsman that becomes Abe Lincoln, the rapiersman who becomes a royal Muskateer, and thus participates in further disenfranchising the anonymous good person from the mid-level university that bookgrrrl speaks of, who puts his/her skills to best use, at genuine risk of never receiving real credit/attention for doing so.

Can you go about your life with NO means of demonstrating you're relevant rather than wastage? When people get scared, I think they de-evolve into preferring kings, queens, princes and magic solutions, over the beautiful in the everyday. Becomes harder to ignore the crowd, living without aiming to please, and be a true hero.

Link: “I lived in a van down by Duke University” (Salon)

Neat freaks

Salt and pepper sets are arguably among the most mundane and ubiquitous of gifts. But this particular set, the Taste of Talking, sums up a lot of what can be wonderful about products that are idea-driven -- inspired by thought and creativity.

The part with the holes? Those parts are mouthpieces and earpieces from old telephones. They are NOS (new old stock), not used. There are stockpiles of such product left from the days when we all used such phones. They're repurposed here to pour seasonings at the table.

[. . .]

There are a series of progressive values reflected in the Taste of Talking. It's green: It uses recycled (and non-biodegradable) parts that might well otherwise truly end up in a landfill. And in using these mundane, disused materials, a wholly unexpected result is achieved, which, I think, changes your perspective on the materials themselves, causing you to look differently at some of the castoffs of our industrial culture. Beauty in a telephone mouthpiece, or an auto sidelight lens? Yet, viewed through this lens, these things are indeed beautiful.

And, these shakers are -- in a word that a lot of my design community colleagues use -- democratic. They marry thoughtful and even groundbreaking design with simplicity and affordability. My favorite corner of the design world is democratic modern design: great and elegant principles applied to create affordable objects. My family and I live in an Eichler house here in Marin. Joe Eichler built subdivisions in the Bay Area in the 1950s and 1960s, and was truly a Utopian. He hired some of the finest modern architects of the times, and they created stunning prototypes, and he put up hundreds of small houses, with groundbreaking architecture, that were affordable for families of very modest means, buying their first home. (John Pound, “Taste of talking,” Salon, 4 December 2009)

Neat freaks

If they were used stock but were really well cleaned, would it still be possible to get AIDS from them? Is that the problem? 'Cause I think you'd probably be okay.

I think the problem is that unlike most recycled goods, where the story behind the materials gets sort of scrubbed away in the process, this doesn't really work with spit. You'd be using your shaker, and lifetimes of human interaction / distress / would assault your food, with the dash of salt. Interesting that. Same thing would probably happen if we knew car parts were owned by dead-enders -- the sort that all too visibly are drifting into insanity right now; or bike parts, from the kinds of kids we progressives are probably going to *sigh* off to war. This could be compensated if we knew who designed them, maybe -- clean, neat, super smart but never exposed, is what we want to welcome into our souls.

Link: “Taste of talking” (Salon)

Hippo-daddies, not hipsters, in the new depression era

How often have you been at a fancy dinner party, or a rocking kegger, and overheard someone lamenting the fact that their friends with children have suddenly been rendered incapable of discussing anything except the contents of the baby's diapers or the adorable thing little Cullen did to the dog? There are Facebook groups for venting frustration with parents who constantly yammer about their offspring and the business of raising them. I understand where these people are coming from. But it is hard for me to understand why they are so annoyed — after all, those people are free.

The common misconception of childless, alcohol-imbibing party guests and cyber-ether baby-haters alike is that parents blabber constantly out of some arrogance or indulgent desire to show off their great kids and their perfect parenthood. Nothing could be further from the truth. We parents have so little now; the children have taken so much. We just have nothing left to say. We sometimes hear ourselves and know how we must sound to others, and we feel great shame. Our children have broken us and turned us into single-subject simpletons. They've accomplished this feat in what is supposed to be the prime of our intellectual life.

[. . .]

So next time you find yourself tearing into a friend or acquaintance who can't shut up about their kids, the next time you find yourself ready to fire off an angry missive about the unrelenting surging tide of mommy blogs, remember that you're hammering a dead cat. We know it's sort of sad, but it's all we have until the kids become a little older. Allow me and my kin to engage in our one conversation, even if it's just to stay in practice for when we emerge from the bunker. Maybe you can even find it in yourselves to muster a little understanding for us next time you're out past 10 p.m. at one of your fancy childless keg parties where you discuss the new Philip Roth and the Phillies' amazing World Series defense. Because, who knows? You may find yourself dumb like me someday. (Aaron Traister, “Is my kids making me not smart,” Salon, 4 December 2009)

re: "We know it's sort of sad, but it's all we have until the kids become a little older. Allow me and my kin to engage in our one conversation, even if it's just to stay in practice for when we emerge from the bunker. Maybe you can even find it in yourselves to muster a little understanding for us next time you're out past 10 p.m. at one of your fancy childless keg parties where you discuss the new Philip Roth and the Phillies' amazing World Series defense. Because, who knows? You may find yourself dumb like me someday."

We're hearing now of how some of the rich are beginning to spend again -- Hermes, Jaguars. Maybe they (rightly) sense that America actually gets kind of a weird kick of knowing some people are still enjoying wall-street heaven, while everything else crumbles. But this group of fortunates actually serve as cover for a more evolved sort -- those who not only know the right strategy to best enjoy the next twenty, but how to properly exult in it, revel in their own superiority/fitness, without anyone being on to them -- without themselves really being on to what they're doing. They're THIS crowd -- the ones who are full of "excuse me this," "mightn't you allow me that": those who, if you let them, will try and convince you they are nearly ridiculous, completely compromised, left out. But don't be fooled -- somewhere inside of them they know that all those divorced couples, all those bachelors with time for Roth, are strangely coming to seem genetically / culturally unfit in the new America -- 20s flappers/swingers, that had come to seem just WRONG when America had returned back to the conservative hearth. Aaron will forever persuade himself that the world believes YOU are the ones who have it made, and will use this belief to enable his "but I get to have my little bit, and it's actually kinda fun too!," but if you look up close at him and his ilk, you'll know what I say is true.

Don't be fooled into letting him have his "one conversation," without a strong measure of (inevitably unreasonable) complaint: he makes it seem so innocent and small-scale, but it's really about the new revival, set to leave your flapper ass out in the cold.

Link: Is my kids making me not smart (Salon)

Salon store

Welcome to the Salon Store -- a new Salon feature that we hope you will find engaging, entertaining and a useful extension of what Salon is all about.

The Store's mission: to offer a collection of products that reflect what always interests us at Salon -- startling creativity, soul-pleasing utility, interesting ideas, unique perspectives and sometimes just the profound wackiness of our culture.

Why do we think the interests of Salon and its audience translate into products? Because, in various ways, things matter to all of us. They make statements, they offer solutions, they express or create emotion. I think of Salon as a place -- a destination, a community -- that is defined chiefly by an evolving set of shared interests. So we think it will be fun, interesting and appropriate to identify products that reflect those interests and showcase them on Salon. And we are particularly interested in your feedback about the products we offer as well as others you think we should be offering. We'd like your participation not merely as purchasers but as curators along with us. (Richard Gingras, “Welcome to the Salon store,” Salon, 29 November 2009)

small question

if we buy small things from the salon store, and sip and chat drinking some starbucks' love brew, does this mean we get to have nothing to do with those kids being shot and killed in afghanistan, having their tuitions upped 30 percent, those poor suckers losing their houses, considering military employment, and bound to have their kids turn increasingly feral?

the goods look pretty good, actually, but it kinda feels like you're opening the door to further wall-street bonuses, evidence that despite it all, you really don't have to give a fuck this christmasy time of year.

Salon can feel rangey, but still be colorful and fun. You've put a neat bow on the site, which makes us all feel a little less like them, which isn't quite what our souls need.

Link: Welcome to the Salon store (Salon)

Amid the $1,000 (and $10,000) titanium-framed, fully suspended, on- and off-road competition bikes for sale around bike-obsessed San Francisco, I stumbled onto this. A custom Sting Ray chopper re-creation. All chrome. With spiral/twisted fork ... and high-density spoke wheel ... and a steering wheel ... and mufflers ... and a spare tire, to top it off, carried in the back, like my granddad's '35 Ford.

I called the phone number the next day. I found myself talking to a young guy -- a kid, the owner/builder. He lived in Richmond, an economically challenged city in the East Bay. At the end of my day at Salon, I drove across the Bay Bridge to have a look.

I drove up a street with no occupied houses, save for the one that was my destination. It was encircled by a high fence. There was a large dog in the yard. I honked the horn, walked up and met a Hispanic family. There were three kids playing in the yard and driveway, a well-kept house, and a garage full of projects with wheels. No English spoken here, save for the owner of the bike. Mom sat on the front stairs watching over everyone, friendly but guarded.

[. . .]

Two-hundred fifty dollars was a lot of money for a bike that had seen a pretty hard and well-used life, no matter how deeply it had been loved. The fork was loose; the wheel spokes had a patina of rust. But for a signpost, a memory of a hardworking family, doing their best against really bad odds? I paid him, and hoisted the bike into the back seat of my car. I asked if I could take their picture, and received an emphatic "no" from his protective mom. (Of course not -- what was I thinking?) The bike now sits in the courtyard of our little house in Marin.

[. . .]

But on the other hand: Products -- the right products, designed with passion, for the right reasons, made responsibly -- can be inspiring. They can be the embodiment of values and, indeed, of dreams. They can literally change people's lives, both those who produce them and those who consume them.

A product may distill the conviction of a young designer, studying art, wanting to make a difference. Or it may represent the deeply held beliefs of an engineer who has spent a lifetime studying a need and developing a theory. Or it may embody the witty, fun imaginings of an inventor who just wants to make people smile. Or it may hold the hopes of a 14-year-old kid who can make something of chrome that embodies his loves and passions, that gives him a reason to work toward his future.

[. . .]

The mission of the Salon Store is to find and showcase products that fit with Salon -- because they embody ideas. As a starting point, we embraced three key words: smart, funny and progressive. (John Pound, “Products that mean something,” Salon, 1 December 2009)

Clean slate

Is the hippie that sold out, now a redeemable aesthetic? Top-teer art school, clean, modern aesthetic -- this DNA injection is carrying Salon further into the celestial, away from all the accumulating rust, rage, breakenings.

And bike-builder -- American poor aren't yet Guatemala rural (and true!). You won't be fashionable for some time, and, as I've argued, you don't quite match the current aesthetic anyway: one brief tour to the discrepid, and now no more to the commons, and the disquiet.

Link: Products that mean something (Salon)

If we learn to talk to ghosts, maybe Jim Henson can summon us an army of muppets

He'll get health care, many of the (not in truth, all so) left "abandoning" him this instant will be back with him, and then as a very monstrous beast, they'll turn their many heads on the progressives who've outed themselves, loudly, out in the open, as anti-Obama, and strike.

They'll have Obama, FOX news, liberals, Palin, conservatives, CNN -- maybe NPR, and Salon store. Like Viggo, we progressives are in need of some more men.

Link: Yes, it’s Obama’s war now (Salon)

Just friend them; they're as frightened as you are


“Just ignore them; they’re as frightened as we are” (“Hey man!” Kids in the Hall)

I did not go quietly into that lonely and unpopular night. Each morning, I tried to assume a casual air of friendship. Big mistake. My efforts backfired, and my former friends’ apathy toward me turned to hatred. Soon, I was not just ignored at school. I was tripped as I came out of the shower. People made flatulent noises when I sat down in class. My locker was magic-markered with the word "loser." We are tempted to remember this behavior and make light of it. Oh, it couldn’t have been that bad, we said. But I remember it well. It was that bad.

[. . .]

Whatever my intention was when I contacted my former friends, it’s different now. I no longer want validation; I no longer am testing the waters to see if they now find me worth their time. These women are not who I thought they’d be. They’re people having a hard time in the economy, people who are struggling through their days, their relationships. I don’t have enough in common with them to think that, had we not fallen out, our friendships would have survived. But here, now, I am someone who also struggles with these things. I have stretched across a social divide that was narrower than I thought, and I found community where I least expected it. Am I pathetic? Maybe. But what I also am, finally, is a popular seventh-grader. I think of my younger self, eating her lunch alone, wondering when this agony will be over. I wish I could tell her I haven't forgotten about her. I wish I could tell her I've made it OK. (Taffy Brodesser-Akner, “Facebook, the mean girls and me,” Salon, 29 November 2009)

They've befriended me, but still insist I have a mangina!!!

You are that popular seventh-grader if you know that if you found yourself back in that place, at that time, that something about you would make you liked, not despised. I think a lot of people assume that if their older self was teleported inside that youth from way ago, s/he'd show everyone a thing or two. I suspect many would actually find to their horror, that they haven't grown as much as they need to think they have.

All your friends are suffering. It would have been better for you if these old pals proved to be doing just as well as you imagined. It would have been good for you (but poor for them) if, after they friended you, they taunted you in the way you recognized. Better help you to test to see if you have come as far along as you deserve to have, or if "old ghosts from the nursery" continue to haunt.

- - - - -

beat me, I'm worthless


re: "Most likely, if they have any decency, then they'll apologize up and down, you can accept it--and then you can have an *honest* friendship. And if they don't... you know they aren't worth it."

I like the idea of bringing it up. But I think what one would hope for is an honest response from them, more than you would an apology. It is possible that they tormented her because she seemed almost to want to be tormented--which is what masochism is all about. The sense that her neediness made her bad, which still haunts her now, very likely afflicted her then.

- - - - -


We weren't all extremely needy. Only those who were poorly attended to were. These are the ones whose neediness was so profound, they either tormented similarly needy kids, in an effort to DENY their own neediness, or put themselves in a position to be bullied, to confirm the rightness of parents who had assessed them as not worth the time.

In any case, I'm all for going back. But the main problem isn't there: it's earlier, and elsewhere.

- - - - -

Writing under Ross cover

I don't think this article is particularly brave. For some time now we've not lived in a society where all boats have risen, and we've all come to understand geeks as those who later on in life are near expected to become Ross-types from friends: their geeky traits actually evidenced their appropriateness for our sophisticated information age. Under this protection, we're seeing a lot of people own up to being geeks. Intellectual, cautious, and accomodating, they even now have their own president. So if you're a successful writer writing now of your previous torments, there is a sense that you're not just uncovering old wounds, but cementing a sense of yourself as constitutionally fit, in a way. To many of your current peers (and us) you may not even be tipping your hat to them (i.e., your early tormentors), to their lasting influence on you, because many of us are barely off talking to one another about how wonderful it is to be carried afloat with Obama, after so many foul years of being pressed down by Bush.

Again, I think the journey back is extremely important. But there are so many temptations to do so so "armored" that we discover nothing, really, but in a way that allows us to pretend that we've uncovered everything. Also, that tightness in your stomach: It's primarily from your experiences inside your home. Most kids even now are more needed by their parents than they are loved by them. They function to give their parents the love they themselves missed out on. When kids start reaching out on their own, to explore who they might be, not only do parents start to lose interest, they also lash out at their kids, for abandoning them just like their parents once did to them. As a result, many kids develop "alters" inside their heads, which tell them they are bad when they reach out for what they themselves want. These alters are a crazy-awful affliction, but they serve the child because they ward him/her away from a superego crackdown. Bullies no doubt function as external alters. In any case, they're not unfamiliar to you, when you first encounter them in school.

Take on your mom. Establish for us what it felt like to be abandoned, bullied by her -- what it still might feel like to be afraid of her. Do it in an environment when showing how you were once a geek doesn't evidence your likely current withitness, but rather that something horrible was lacking in you, may still be lacking you -- that not treated, will deny you so much of what you deserve through life. Even if you become a senator, who no longer responds to out-of-town requests.

Link: Facebook, the mean girls and me (Salon)

My books at

Essays on the Lord of the Rings Draining the Amazon's Swamp Wendy and Lucy, Star Trek, and The Lord of the Rings (and free at scribd...