(no subject)

This is basically a writing diary where I write all kinds of stuff that will be immensely boring to anyone who stumbles across it.

Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly. ---- Harry Lime


To my UK friends, all I can say is that “they” are on the wrong side of history.

Insert whatever political equation you like between those quotes.

Small comfort, I know, if you’re trapped in a piece of amber with “them.”

Globalism and the erosion of national boundaries are inevitable. So is the havoc that climate change will wreak.

That said, Greta Thunberg is pretty fucking obnoxious. I suppose Cassandra and all those blistering Old Testament prophets were, too.

Next year, it will be us Yanks feeling the pain when Trump wins in a landslide.


RTT woke me up around 3 in the morning with a ghastly scenario involving Darryl, a gun, and a drug robbery that RTT thwarted. “I’m literally scared for my safety right now,” he said, and I wondered: Should I call 911?

Fortunately, Darryl had left the building. RTT and I spent the next hour talking. Me thinking, What the hell, Robin? Even in the first half of my 20s, which were misspent in some rather horrifyingly spectacular and dangerous ways, I was never in a situation that involved a gun.

“You can’t live with him,” I said.

“I can’t live with him,” he said.

This becomes a practical issue because RTT, Darryl and the kid Darryl was attempting to rob are slated to move into an apartment over the State Street Theater on January 1.

“He’s such a good dude, man,” RTT said. “I love him. He’s just addicted to drugs. I’m sure last night he was just oxy'd out and delusional.”

“That’s irrelevant,” I said. Though I’m fond of Darryl, too. What is it with these Lost Boys in RTT’s orbit? Is RTT a Lost Boy, too? And if so, why? Is it something I did? Is it something I didn’t do? Can I do anything to change it?

RTT himself is not into drugs—except marijuana, which, these days, is practically an antidepressant. He doesn’t even do alcohol anymore. So, that’s one good thing.

“I’m in such a mess, Mom,” he said. “I don’t know what to do.”

“There are options,” I said. “They may not be dream case scenarios. But they do exist.”

He’s got to get his driver’s license. Once he’s got a driver’s license and a car, even a junker, he’s got options.

He’s also got to get that broken tooth attended to. While we were in California, it flared up into an abscess, and I ended up dragging him into Tustin Urgent Care on Thanksgiving morning. Not fun.

Clearly, he’s deeply depressed, and I keep thinking this goes back somehow to the pathologically codependent relationship he had with his father—Ben always preferred the people around him to be depressed; it was so much easier that way to insinuate himself into the cracks in their psyches and control them.

“Sorry for waking you up,” he said after we’d been talking for more than an hour. “Normally it'd be Dad, but he's dead, so y'know. Expect these kinds of paranoid messages semi-regularly, hopefully never not warranted.”

They’re always unwarranted, I thought. Because you should not be putting yourself in a situation where this kind of shit is happening to you.

“I take it you would prefer me not to speak to anyone else about what’s been happening tonight,” I asked. “Is that correct?”

“Nope,” he said. “Tell Max and anyone else in the family. A new thing I've been doing is transparency. I love Dad, but I never want to find myself between two awkward posts in a field where I have to veer to a lie on one side or the other. Sick of lying and toxicity. I just want to be a normal human without shit surrounding me.”

That’s hopeful.

If you’re gonna turn your life around, transparency is the place to start.

I can help him with the driver’s license and the dentist.

I can’t help him if he’s lying to himself.

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Redo the Yalta Conference!

Temps inexplicably soared into the 50s yesterday, so I dragged my sorry ass out for a brisk walk. Twice around the Roosevelt Library. Doesn’t count as real exercise, but better than nothing.

FDR’s nose was running:

Churchill looked disgruntled by his banishment to this obscure corner of upstate New York:

In the interval between the last stroke of midnight and the beginning of the New Year, all statues come alive, you know. So, perhaps I will go out to the FDR Library this New Year’s Eve and plead with FDR and Churchill to do some kind of Yalta Conference remake—without Russia (this time.)


Went shopping. Saw this:

God forbid you should give money to people in need at Christmas without making sure greedy nonprofit management functionaries get their share of the pie, right?


I was pleased to see this story. To my way of thinking, this makes Kansas City the most progressive place in the United States of America. Homelessness may partially be about mental illness, but it’s also about falling between the economic cracks. So, how do you combat it? By lowering the costs of essentials like housing and transportation.

Shit like raising the minimum wage is not going to work at all. It’s only gonna catalyze an inflationary rise in all associated costs.

Why are people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders so fucking dumb that they don't understand this?


Came home. Took a nap.

I was exhausted.

Wrenched my back helping L put stars high up on her Christmas tree.

Thought about doing useful work but instead began watching the 1980 version of Love in a Cold Climate, which is much, much better than the 2001 version of Love in a Cold Climate, and much, much longer. Climbed on the elliptical trainer while I watched and did another three miles.

Then I slept 10 hours.


When I woke up, it was very cold outside, and hideous white stuff had fallen from the sky.

Still thinking about doing useful work.

But also thinking, What is the point?

Is this another inevitable side effect of aging? That the world apart from nature and memories of old times turns into place that makes you think, Why would anyone in their right mind wanna live in a place like this?

Good preparation for letting go and dying, I suppose.

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Why Are You Dead, Jessica Mitford?

That Chernobyl sky. That ghastly white ground mist that freezes, then precipitates when it bounces off the telephone poles. Despondent much? Me? Why yes, now that you mention it!

But what can you do except pop your Vitamin D, huddle under the light box, and repeat your mantra: It’s only brain chemistry. It’s only brain chemistry?


Mrs. Neighbor Ed has gone off to be with the Providence grandchildren, which means Neighbor Ed spent the morning live-texting me the Impeachment Hearings.

I don’t care about the Impeachment Hearings!

I think the Impeachment is a huge mistake. Trump is sleazy and awful and horrifying, but the Senate is stacked for acquittal, so it’s a complete waste of time, money, and energy.

Plus the Ukraine situation is kind of ambiguous: Hunter Biden’s appointment to that gas company board absolutely was the sleaziest kind of influence peddling. And what are the Democrats saying here anyway? That no one who’s a Presidential candidate can ever be investigated for anything? That if you want to avoid a corruption charge, all you have to do is announce your candidacy?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Trumps are the very wizards of influence peddling!

Does that make it right for the ostensible good guys to do it?

If they want to go after Trump, much sounder grounds abound.

Like the small, throwaway story I read in some obscure media outlet yesterday: Trump apparently diverted $1.7 million in campaign contributions to defer operational costs at his privately owned powerbase, Manhattan’s Trump Towers.

Campaign fraud, no?

This, it seems to me, is much stronger grounds for impeachment.

But it lacks the narrative the Democrats want to push: Evil, orange Trump attempting to derail virtuous, beleaguered members of the Loyal Resistance.

The Democrats would rather run on that narrative than they would on Trump’s miserable record.

In fact, the Democrats want a complete do-over of the 2016 election. Another story yesterday was about some poll that shows the candidate that Democrats really want to vote for in the 2020 election is… Hillary Clinton.

I mean, fuck-k-k-k-k-k.


Scuttled off to tutor Khadijah. I think I have problems? I don’t have problems! Khadijah has problems!

Got home and texted Neighbor Ed: Are you still watching the impeachment hearings? Do you want me to come over and shoot you?

, he texted back.

But, of course, we didn’t watch the impeachment hearings, though they were on the little TV in the kitchen. Instead, we drank beer, nibbled almonds and pepperjack cheese, and babbled.

Usually, so long as I can babble, I am a happy camper. But yesterday, I was not. Not even babbling could alleviate the awful hovering sense of oppression.

Neighbor Ed did tell me one amusing story, though: His daughter Sarah went to pick up her one-year-old from the Progressive Day Care Center. The kid’s nose was running all over her face, so Sarah grabbed a Kleenex and wiped the kid down.

The Progressive Day Care Center Worker clutched her heart and gasped: “You don’t ask her for permission first?”

The thought of asking a one-year-old for permission to wipe her nose is fucking ludicrous and signifies everything that’s wrong with “woke” culture.

I went home, did some remunerative work, drank waaay too much apple brandy, read Sapiens—very good book!—and watched the first two episodes of the BBC's Love in a Cold Climate.

Not for the first time, I wondered what Jessica Mitford would make of this sorry mess of a world.

Why are you dead, Jessica Mitford?

Don’t you know I need you to be my bestest friend?

Especially this morning when I am mildly hung over from all that alcohol consumption?

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Maybe Mike Anthony Will Knock on My Door

This is the worst time of the year. Grey. Unrelenting. The sun sets at 4:25pm in the afternoon. My only reason to remain alive is to pay off my credit card bills. There was a moment there yesterday when I thought, Honestly? There’s not a single thing I really want to do.

It seems bleaker than usual this year. Dunno whether that’s from unceasing barrage of negative headlines or from the fact that I’m really fuckin’ old and my powers of attraction are on the wane.

I’m not talking about romantic attraction—I made my peace long ago with the fact that as an aging female well past her physical prime who has nothing in the way of material possessions, it was extremely unlikely that I would ever couple off again.

No, I’m talking about just being in a room and having people want to talk to me. They don’t. I’m old and therefore de facto irrelevant.

It dawns on me that I probably wouldn’t mind being irrelevant if I had a car I was comfortable driving at night and a more recent computer that was capable of playing Tropico 6 and The Sims 4 Discover University.

First World problems, in other words.

Ah, well.

In three months, crocus and snowdrops will poke their heads out of the frozen earth.

The sun won’t set till nearly 7pm!

Maybe Mike Anthony will knock on my door and hand me a check for one million dollars signed by John Beresford Tipton himself.

Or maybe I’ll finish my novel. It will be so brilliant and so amazing that that handful of terrestrial publishers who haven’t yet succumbed to the Publishing Extinction Event will enter into a fierce bidding war over it, and I will be rich, rich, rich beyond my wildest dreams of avarice!


Anything can happen once it’s March.

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Sinterklaas and Alexander McQueen

Went to the Rhinebeck Sinterklaas celebration. It was filled with Art Photo opportunities and very jolly:

Rhinebeck is not a Dutch village, so I’m not entirely sure why they’ve adopted Sinterklaas. Rhinebeck was actually founded by German Palatines who, weary of the Thirty Years War and religious prosecution, succumbed to false advertising by British land agents some time in the late 17th century: You, too, can live a fabulous life in the New World!

Their homesickness is reflected in the village’s name. Rhine for the Rhine River, which the Hudson reminded them of.

They were not treated particularly well in the New World.

First, they were housed in a tent camp on Governor’s Island until slimy Robert Livingston, the patroon of the enormous Livingston patent, lured them north in exchange for the promise of a daily ration of a third of a loaf of bread and a quart of beer. Then they were put to hard labor making tar and pitch for the British Navy. They had no houses, and they were expected to grow their own food. The British decided this was a legal form of indentured servitude, but it wasn’t the deal the Palatines had signed up for back in Germany, so in 1712, they rebelled.

I seem to remember that many of them starved to death during the harsh winter of that year and are buried in a mass grave in a place now called Poet’s Walk. I can’t find any historical confirmation of that fact, though, so I may have made it up.

Anyway, Rhinebeck. Not Dutch.

If it wasn’t for Martin Luther, you would be celebrating Sinterklaas! It’s traditionally celebrated on St. Nicholas’s Eve, which falls on December 5, although these days, of course, the festivities are scheduled for the closest weekend.

I’m not entirely sure how gift-giving entered into the equation, since I think—although I do not know for sure—that New Year’s Eve was the traditional date for the exchange of presents in medieval times; but anyway, Martin Luther became absolutely infuriated that the primary gift giver in the Christian calendar was a jolly old guy in a red suit with a black sidekick. Clearly, the Christkindl is the only appropriate source of end-of-the-year largesse! So Martin Luther moved the date of the gift exchange to the Christkindl’s nativity, allegedly December 25 though as all good astrologers know, that birthday was really in late March.

Rhinebeck does a bowdlerized version of Sinderklaas as befits our “woke” times. No sign of St. Nick’s sidekick, Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) who carries a birch rod to lash at the ankles of naughty children as well as a big burlap bag into which he stuffs even naughtier children—to carry them back to Spain, which was evidently the worst place on earth if you were a Dutch burgher living in the 18th century.

Zwarte Piet may or may not be the same character as Krampus who is my very favorite Christmas superhero by far.

Krampus is very evil and demonic, and since he has cloven hooves and a lolling tongue, he probably harkens back to some Paleolithic fertility god, suitably routed and humiliated by the Christian sky god but still defiant:

I left shortly after the Starlight Parade began, thus passing up many more Art Photo opportunities. But it was really fucking cold—15° Fahrenheit!—plus this time of year, I am even more paranoid than usual about driving at night because deer.

Once home, I watched a documentary about Alexander McQueen.

I can’t even begin to describe how brilliant I think Alexander McQueen was. Everything that needs to be said about the bloody history leading up to the brutal and uncaring 21st century is right there in his fashion.

But one of the truly amazing things about McQueen is that he himself looked so ordinary throughout the greater part of his career. He eschewed those stylistic tics visual artists so often use to alert you: Genius on Board!

If you sat next to him on a train, you’d feel perfectly okay asking him for directions:

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Homelessness and the Utter UN-Adorableness of Greta Gerwig

Max did say one thing that I thought was absolutely spot on: “The most obvious sign of depression is when people stop taking care of themselves.”

This is kind of an interesting thought because it introduces economics into a psychological equation. By “taking care of themselves,” what’s meant, I suppose, is showering regularly, brushing and flossing, eating nutritiously, exercising regularly. Etcetera.

But these things have a monetary cost.

If you don’t have a pleasant bathroom, for example, if your shower stall is cramped and dark, if your water smells funny, if the bathroom is dirty, you are far less likely to want to take showers.

(I am moved once again to reiterate my First Rule for Dealing With Depression: Don’t go into therapy; just clean your fucking house.)

If your food budget is only $10, you are far more likely to buy Doritos and candy than you are to buy kale.

If you don’t have the money to visit a dentist and have your teeth cleaned professionally, plaque is likely to accumulate on your teeth, predisposing you to cavities. And once your teeth start to go, you’re a permanent resident of the underclass: Teeth have absolutely replaced accents in 21st century America as the class significator.

The underclass in America is permanently depressed—in both the psychological and economic senses of the word.


We also have to make a distinction between sadness and depression.

I’m not sure what that distinction is except “depression” feels chronic somehow. Or perhaps systemic is a better word.


The rampant homelessness I saw in California made me very, very sad, but once my eyes became opened to it, I started seeing the same thing here. I don’t know why I ignored it for so long or gave New York City with its cadre of desperate subway riders and corner lurkers a pass. The homeless are everywhere. And their numbers are growing—despite the fact, as we were informed by yesterday’s employment figures, that America’s economy is booming.

It’s not as though I have a solution, of course.

“Well, they come from all over!” one person tells me earnestly. “They come from the Midwest! Like they’ll pick up someone on the street in Milwaukee and buy them a bus ticket to New York or San Francisco!”

“They’re all mentally ill,” says another person. “They’ve marginalized themselves. And they’re all addicts.”

I don’t know whether either of those things is true or untrue.

All, I know is that to me the homeless phenomenon represents the beginning of a profound breakdown in the social and economic fabric. We last saw a disconnect of this magnitude during the Great Depression, right?

In my mind, the phenomenon is related to cocooning and the rise of social media although I would be hard put to articulate that connection at present.

The rising numbers of the homeless are evidence to me that America itself is depressed—in both the psychological and economic senses of the word.


In other news, the Tax Bwana people had asked me whether I would consider becoming a site coordinator this year, so I showed up at the site coordinator meeting yesterday.

The meeting was so boring and the people in charge so unwelcoming that I’ve decided to table my dreams of executive power.

Tax Bwana-ing is gonna be a mess this year anyway. Apparently last year, some site coordinator in Connecticut ran into a Starbucks on her way home and left the engine of her car running. When she got back outside, the car was gone—along with all the computers from the site, which contained God knows how much sensitive personal information.

What kind of a fucking idiot leaves her engine running outside a Starbucks, I would like to know?

Anyway, the size of the breach is not known and was certainly not reported upon. Presumably the types of people who avail themselves of Tax Bwana services are not the types of people whose personal information commands high prices on the Dark Web.

So, this year, they are replacing all PCs with Chromebooks. Chromebooks store everything on the cloud. And they are forcing all the sites to install proprietary WISP routers, which oughta be a fucking nightmare.

So. Not a great time to be a midlevel functionary in the great Tax Bwana bureaucracy.


Also watched Marriage Story. Well-made movie about white people problems. Presumably the story of Noah Birmbach’s divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The movie made me inexplicably irritated though I’m not entirely sure why. Possibly because Greta Gerwig—an actress/director I actively loathe—had a surrogate in it: Merritt Weaver as the bumbling, wonky sister whom the audience is supposed to find adorable even though there’s nothing whatsoever adorable about her.

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Why Snow Isn't Beautiful

I have decided to forgive Max.

After all, forgiveness only enhances the luster of the crown I’ll wear in heaven, right? And propels me to the first rank of paragons of maternal self sacrifice like Mother Machree, Mother Courage, and Joan Crawford.

As a sign of my renewed maternal love, I gave Max the password to my Criterion movie account.

Robin took some good photos of me-e-e-e-e-e! (He has a fabulous camera eye.)

Well. I guess somebody else took that first one. But with his camera.

I took this cozy domestic shot:

I almost beat Max! But in the end, the value of my extra tiles had to get subtracted from my score, so I lost by three.

Nobody beats Max at Scrabble,” MaryAnn told me grimly. “I refuse to play with him anymore.”


I should probably write up the trip adventures at greater length because otherwise I’ll forget them, but that’s not gonna be today and that’s not gonna be tomorrow either.

My jet-lagged sleep cycle is still very weird. I keep waking up after fabulous cascading dreams and thinking, I should write this down! And then falling back to sleep before I can.

It’s very grey and bleak outside. Everything covered under 10 inches of snow.

I know most people think snow is beautiful, but I think snow loans a discouraging ubiquity to the landscapes it covers. When it’s covered with snow, every single thing looks the same; there’s no individuality, no unique quirks.

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