free to choose my world

I told Tim I wanted to go into his apartment and photograph something that proved he was back home and he was all suspicious and said like what and I said I don’t know, anything, please, and he said okay. So I photographed these beautiful chests of drawers that replaced the ones that were drowned in the flood and that had once belonged to my parents and I’m sure that makes some people feel sad because after all, it was my late mother’s furniture but I just can’t hang on to all that and anyway, these are beautiful and have metal legs that keep them off the floor which I think you’re going to start seeing as the theme of replacement furniture in all the Houndstooth Hall dwellings.

Then I was going to let Penny help me take a photo of Tim’s groovy new coffee table that also has metal legs but something distracted me and when I later told Jim about the distraction he said Robert Pattinson, is he even a thing anymore, and I said I have the choice of living in a world of mythical vampires or a world of Trump which should I choose and he said point taken.

The End.

Veterans Day

In the early nineties I began to educate myself about AIDS and the staggering loss of life it caused. I read and heard too many accounts of people losing their friends at an age when that seemed impossible–all these young people taken at a time when their lives were either blossoming with new experiences and accomplishments or they were enjoying the results of those.

The only metaphor I could think of was war. Where else had young men and women seen their friends and equals (among their own and their enemies) die at such young ages but war? AIDS was a disease that laid waste to a generation the way Vietnam did my brother’s, or World War 2 my parents’, and the Gulf War my nephews’ and nieces’. As the great-granddaughter, daughter, and sister of soldiers and an airman, I was taught in my home to honor those who served, and it was a lesson that was repeated from every stage, podium, or pulpit.

Of course outside of the AIDS/HIV ravaged community, no one was advocating that we care about those fighting or suffering the losses in the war that was AIDS. In that way, AIDS more accurately depicted the reality I had come to understand about our military veterans as I grew older. Everybody says support our troops and puts it on magnets or bumper stickers. There are parades and speeches and even a day, today, created to recognize veterans.

In truth, we seem to deal much better with a different holiday–Memorial Day. We honor the dead and comfort their survivors. We lay wreaths and set flags on the graves of the lost. It’s uncomplicated for the larger community (though not so much for those who actually knew and loved the lost). Our throats close up and our eyes well with tears when we see those flag-draped coffins or hear the 21-Gun Salute.

In contrast, for me, for decades, the speeches on Veterans Day ring hollow because we don’t actually care for at least one segment of our veterans as we should–those who have seen battle or served in wartime or who have been trained to serve in wartime. The cost to the mental and physical health of soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines is staggering. That isn’t to say there aren’t people trying–there are many groups of veterans who continue to serve each other. There are medical professionals and volunteers and families all engaged in a new war to save those who have seen and done things the rest of us never will. But the larger community, the nation as a whole, filters out the grim reality of the statistics of the costs of war and military service to those at home: drug use, alcoholism, domestic violence, unemployment, trauma, behavioral issues, and suicide.

Yesterday I read a Twitter thread that resonated with me in so many ways. I’m putting it here so I can go back to it. I hope it makes everyone who reads it uncomfortable. We should be uncomfortable. I wish I thought it would change things. But we still glorify battle (how many video/computer games exist that do just that, how many military-style weapons are in the homes of people who have no military training) and avert our eyes from or refuse even our compassion to those for whom such training was not a game, not a hobby. It begins with compassion. The national dialogue on AIDS changed because compassionate people outside the battle began to speak to their friends and families, even if it made them uncomfortable. But it only begins with compassion. After compassion must come awareness, education, and action.

I could extrapolate this to society’s other ills that culminate in atrocity (poverty, racism, sexism, for example). But today is for veterans. If we are going to train killers, then we need to provide a supportive care system to retrain them. Our healthcare system, our national discourse, and our efforts as individuals need to stop glorifying war even if we recognize it as a final necessity–my father did what he thought was right, and I believe he was right, too–and deal intelligently with its consequences.

Thread Reader is happy to present an unrolled Twitter story by @cmclymer

1/ I have some things to say about the Texas shooting. It’s gonna piss some people off, and that’s too bad. It needs to be said. (thread) 2/ I served in the Army. I was trained as an infantryman. A grunt. That’s about as nuts-and-bolts as it gets in

do with this what you will

I was a terrible liar as a child. I don’t mean I was terrible at it. I was in fact really good at it. By my failed lies and by observing others’ successful lies, I learned many of the things that betray and expose a liar and knew to avoid them.

At only a slightly older age, I gave up lying, and I can’t say it was any great moral choice. I think it had more to do with my love of words. The older I grew, and the more enlightened I became with the power of words, the less inclined I was to misuse them. Words can be cruel, they can be manipulative, they can get us power. But if those are what I get out of this rich system of communication that humans have developed, then I am impoverished.

There is one advantage of having been an excellent liar (other than turning it into the fun of writing fiction). I recognize lies and I recognize a liar. I might resist that recognition, but the visceral response to a lie remains and no matter how deeply buried, sooner or later, as Shakespeare wrote, “The truth will out.”

I found an article online about these characteristics of lifelong liars:

1. Frequent Lying

Compulsive or pathological liars don’t just lie now and then, but consistently about both small and large things. Pathological liars are also known for studying people, to ascertain what kind of lies they can tell that will be believed.

2. Inability to Confront Truth

Compulsive liars refuse to confront the truth, even when presented with overwhelming evidence that they are lying. They will continue trying to convince you that your evidence is wrong and they are right. In some cases, they may lie about things they’ve done or their past in order to make themselves more interesting.

3. Changing Stories

Liars tend to change their stories as they go and may change it for different audiences as well. The listener can look for this by asking questions to establish a sequence of events. The liar may also add in events that stretch belief.

4. Insecurity

Liars also tend to be insecure with low self-esteem. They may exhibit compulsive, selfish and obsessive behaviors. Lying might be a way for them to avoid uncomfortable realities or to change perceptions about themselves. Lying might also be a way for them to boost their ego. Pathological liars can exhibit a range of narcissistic behaviors such as manipulation, jealousy, impulsiveness, aggression and anger.

5. No Eye Contact or Aggressive Eye Contact

One of the most commonly known things about liars is that they seek to avoid eye contact while telling a lie. This is true in some cases, but not all cases. Pathological and lifelong liars become very experienced in not exhibiting the standard signs of liars. They may do the opposite of avoiding eye contact and instead give aggressive eye contact to convince you that they’re telling the truth. Piercing eye contact can be a sign that a person is lying just as easily as avoiding eye contact. Some liars also inject humor or sociability into their lying to throw you off.

6. Lack of Emotion

One distinctive characteristic of a pathological liar is a lack of empathy, which may also translate to a lack of emotion. Because pathological liars have no understanding or caring of how their lying makes others feel, they lack empathy. This may show up in other areas of their lives as well. If you are both questioning a person’s truthfulness and noticing their lack of empathy in general, you might be dealing with a pathological liar.

7. Anger When Accused of Lying

Pathological liars do not show discomfort when lying because of the aforementioned lack of empathy, however, they may show anger or aggression if they appear to be caught in the lie. A compulsive liar may simply be on the defensive quickly and try to turn it on you for accusing them.

In both of these cases, it may not matter if you tell them you know they are lying. Since both types of liars are generally unwilling to confront the truth.

A liar succeeds when the lie is what we want to hear, to believe, to rest our behavior on. But no matter how beguilingly we dress it and take it out and present it to the world, a lie can never become the one thing liars, and sometimes their hearers, want it to be: the truth.

Sweet Lurleen

The other day I think I found the report I wrote on Lurleen Wallace, the 46th governor of Alabama, when I was in the sixth grade. I have no idea where I saw that now; maybe I dreamed I saw it. But I definitely did write a report on her. I don’t know why she intrigued me so as a child, but now, from my perspective as an aging woman with few illusions about what it is to be a Southern female, she continues to interest me and elicit all my compassion.

Every time I name one of RPM’s dogs Lurleen, I do it for her. I mean it as a compliment.

This beautiful Lurleen traveled on the most recent RPM transport. Happy life, sweet girl!


Bella, Edward, Katnip (first sighting in almost two years!), Lil Eddy Redux (because Kari has the real Lil Eddy), Lestat, and Angelica are shown with their new friend, HC. She looks happy, but the others look so serious. They must have some tough battles ahead. Courage, my little friends!

(You can’t see it in this photo because it’s too small, but as I was photographing this crew, I realized the word on the piece of art over the shoulders of Lestat and Angelica is “courage.” Nothing like having a theme handed to you!)

Button Sunday

Someone I know has a strong opinion about recent events, and I have a place where he can express it. The following is a guest editorial.

I’m not somebody who writes a lot about the state of politics or shares my feelings on them often, for a variety of reasons. There are a lot of people who are much more knowledgeable than I am on the topic. But I don’t know that I can sit on my hands and not say anything any longer. At least not in good conscience.

I’m happy to own the part of this that may be just me living in my own denial. But I have to say it really rubs me the wrong way to hear Trump constantly referred to as the President Elect. He hasn’t won anything. He has, by all counts, lost the popular vote by just under three million votes. And the Electoral College doesn’t vote until December 19. Let’s see how that pans out.

Given my admission that I am not as well spoken in the political arena as others are, I have to ask the question that I’m not hearing anyone else ask. The CIA says that the Russians had a direct hand in influencing the election so their preferred candidate would win, in addition to confirming hacks into the DNC and attempts to hack (evidently unsuccessfully?) into the RNC computer systems and databases. And evidently, the POTUS and Congress knew all about it in advance of the election. But POTUS, in apparent response to a threat by Senator Mitch McConnell, said nothing since McConnell allegedly threatened to frame any revelation as politically motivated. (I’m not sure why that matters, but evidently it did to Obama.)

Somehow, through all of this, we’re supposed to accept the results of the “election” that was manipulated by the Russians as valid. Why is no one calling to nullify the results of this election? (I’d like to think my reaction would be the same regardless of whether my candidate won or not. The thought that any other country could have such broad-reaching influence on our election is sickening.)

I don’t understand the complacency of the Democratic Party, with Senator Chuck Schumer simply saying, “We’ll have to look into this in a bipartisan way after the holidays.” It sounds a lot like, “Vacation is more important than protecting the democracy we have sworn to uphold and defend.”

I don’t understand how everything just keeps moving forward like a runaway train, and no one seems to question anything (of importance).

— J.C.