Thursday, August 30, 2012

Part 1: An Amicable Marooning

I want to tell you a story.

It is likely – it is even probable! – that this story that I wish to tell is a story which requires more than a single simple blog post to relate. For this is not a tale that putt-putts forward from Point A to Point B in any traditionally recognized manner of travel.

We cannot begin in a place called “Here”  with a young, soon-to-be hero smoking his pipe and staring at the horizon and dreaming of a world lying beyond his own only to wind up in a place called “Over There”  with the same hero – now slightly older, greatly wiser – having won the girl and the grail and the castle and the steed and a new best friend for comedic relief. No! For this is not that species of story. Not by a long shot.

This is a seed. No, this is a cutting – a wee bit snip of root or stem or vine that will grow and grow until it twists up and around and back down again. This is a story that brings in me and your grandmother and Teddy Roosevelt and the first t.v. Even you – yes you! – make an appearance in this story. Briefly, fleetingly, and we’ve had to smudge your face out because we didn’t get your written permission to show you, true. But you’re in there!

In this story, there is no edge where maps fail and ships fall off into space, captains, rats, and all. This story goes as far as we let it.

But this story starts right here.

And it starts with a moving truck. Here, I’m not speaking of a truck in motion, but rather of a truck whose whole purpose in life is to transport people’s household belongings – their couches and bed springs and dressers and the family photos and pet baby scorpions – and take them from one residence to a new residence. To a new life.

The box of this truck has a pale blue stripe down it and the stripe goes on forever. You see a stripe like that, you cannot help but to think, “How can any one person or one family or one village possess so very many belongings that it would require a truck with a stripe so long in which to carry them?”

You’d think that and you’d be justified in your thinking, but our greatest physicists have studied the truck box at great length and they assure us that no matter how much the movers insist they’ve made the wisest possible use of the inside area of the box, it’s still, at bottom, mostly empty space.

But somebody starts up the truck now. You hear it cough. You hear it roar. You see it drive away now. The moving truck is moving.

And as the moving truck moves away, it reveals something there, still on the curb. Something left behind. Something that had, up until this moment, been blocked from our view.

It is shaped a bit like a person. It is human-like. Humanoid… -ish. This thing left behind up on the curb, it is intended to be perceived as being human, and it does a fair to middling job in this regard. The gangly limbs, the bulbous head, the cartoonishly large eyes – it would be easy enough for you to question whether it really belongs to the species known as homo sapiens, but here’s the thing:

It is crying.

And crying makes even the least human of things look… well, downright human.

It cries. It watches the moving truck moving away.

It is me.

And this is how the story that I want to tell you begins.

[**The phrase  “An Amicable Marooning”comes from the song “Gopher Guts” by Aesop Rock, as will the title of every part of this series.]

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Let’s Make Lots of Money

The following is a speech I wrote for Dana, who is my wife. She read it at a fancy dinner that a law firm held in her honor after she had won a big case for them. Dana does not work for this law firm, normally. The law firm had only “rented her out,”  so to speak, so that maybe they could win a lot of money on this one case.

They won a lot of money on this one case!

Now, most days, Dana is way too smart a gal to ever dream of using my words. My words, after all, are unlikely to help a professional’s standing within the professional community. But Dana made an exception for this dinner because it seemed appropriate. She used my words.

She was the guest of honor and she used my words and these are the words she used:

Wow. I’d like to thank everybody at Godley & Creme, L.L.P. for this dinner, or for this dinner party, or for this… Hey, it’s a party, right? Are we having a party? [Applause]

It feels like a party. A celebration. A celebration of what we accomplished together these last few months. It is without a doubt the biggest party that anyone has ever thrown for me: It’s bigger than my wedding. It’s bigger than my quinceaƱera.

Still, I was talking to Sid a little while ago – and Sid, thank you for that beautiful introduction – and I said, I feel like we’re all sort of strangers here. A mutual desire for… a whole lot of money… [laughter and applause] brought us together, but I don’t know y’all. Y’all don’t know me.

And one thing most of y’all probably do not know about me – Sid knows this, but probably not most of you – is this: I almost came on board with Godley & Creme a few years back. I came this close. Didn’t I, Sid?

So I was thinking about this earlier tonight as I was talking with Sid, and I was running it through my head. And it reminded me of the story of Stalin and the Jews.

Do y’all know the story of Stalin and the Jews?

Well, grab another glass of wine. I’ll tell you. [Laughter.]

Joe had sort of a hate-hate
relationship with... people.
Y’all know about Josef Stalin, right? You went to elementary school before law school, some of you? Josef Stalin was this guy who was running things over in the Soviet Union during the thirties, during the forties, going into the nineteen fifties.

Now if Joe – I hope I can call him Joe – if Joe were alive today, here with us in the twenty-first century, we’d probably diagnose him with a few things. A few mental conditions. Like probably chronic narcissism. [Applause.] Maybe some sort of personality disorder. But definitely, we would diagnose him with paranoia.

Joe was one paranoid dude.

Joe hated just about everybody. He thought just about everybody was out to get him. And maybe they were. I forget how that goes: Are you still considered paranoid if they really are  out to get you?

Either way, Joe hated an awful lot of people, and one of the groups of people that he hated most of all was the Jews. The problem for Joe was, well, this was right after World War II, and it was considered bad form for world leaders to, you know… say, start rounding Jews up in trains.

So Joe had to be a little more careful than usual about this. Not much – he was  Joe Stalin, after all! – but he had to show a little tact. A teensy bit of finesse. By Joe standards.

He purged all of the Jews from the government, and then he started systematically going through and purging Jews from other spheres of Russian life: artists and scientists and influence-peddlers. You know… He did it all on the down-low and he did it well.

But here’s the thing:  Joe wanted a bomb. Joe wanted a really big bomb. A bomb like we over here in the United States had. If we had a bomb, Joe wanted a bomb. And it did not take long for Joe to figure something out: If he wanted a really big bomb like the United States had, he was going to have to buckle under and get himself a Jewish scientist or two.

Please consult Billy Joel
for a quick refresher on the Cold War.
Turns out, Joe’s desire for a really big bomb was strong. Even stronger than his hatred of Jews! So he went out and he got himself some of them Jews, and before he knew it, voila! Korea and Vietnam and the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis and “we didn’t start the fire!”  

Now, flash forward about fifty years and Yours Truly – by which I mean, me –  was about to get hired on by Godley & Creme. Do you remember that meeting, Sid? And I knew it was coming, and I knew the offer was about to come out of Sid’s mouth.

And before he could make the offer, I said this: “I just want you to know how much I love Godley & Creme and how much I respect your mission. Your values. You’re a politically and culturally conservative firm, and I am a politically and culturally conservative woman.[Applause.] You’re a Christian firm, and I am a Christian.”  [Applause.]

I said, “And I want this to be a long and a prosperous relationship and I do not want to play games or hide the ball with you. I do not want to be keeping secrets from you. So I’m going to lay it all out on the table and tell you up front, lest there be any misunderstanding.”

I said to Sid, “I am an out lesbian. I live with my gorgeous wife and our [at that time] two daughters, and I am so proud of them. My orientation does not affect my work. But I thought everybody should know what it is we’re getting into.”

And do you remember what you said to me, Sid? I remember! In fact, I have it written down right here.

You said, “Ms. Anders, I thank you for your honesty.”

And then you said, “And I thank God every day that I still live in a country where I am free to tell you that we here at Godley & Creme will never ignore the Lord’s word by knowingly associating with sodomites.”  Sodomites! “There is no professional goal, no case, and no client, so valuable as to justify risking one’s eternal soul.

You said, “We will unfortunately not be able to extend an offer to you and it solely because of what you have just told us.”

You remember that now, Sid?

So tonight, on this fantastic occasion that brought us all together to party, I just want to express how thrilled I am that Godley & Creme, just like Joe Stalin with those Jews, finally found something y’all desired so much that you were willing to risk your eternal souls to get it.

You want the bomb? You bring in the Jews!  You want to win that huge case? Then bring in the dykes!

Give yourselves a hand, Godley & Creme! [Scattered and tentative applause.]

You know, with so much bad stuff out there in the culture today, what you all do here is absolutely critical. I know your firm’s symbol is the wheel, but I like to think of y’all as… I don’t know, like a levy, maybe. A levy holding back the ocean of filth and sin and chaos.

Or a dam, maybe… or a levy, or…

I know! How about this? Godley & Creme, L.L.P. is a finger in the dike of the law! Do you like that image, Sid? I see my wife, Katy, likes that image. Take it, Sid. It’s yours… Put it there on the letterhead.

So thank you for tonight, everybody, and here’s to Stalin and the Jews building that really big bomb together! Good night!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Give Me Aural!

This week, I am trying something new just to see how it goes. If it works, maybe it will even become a thing around here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

How I Landed My New Job

It went like this: I was meditating in the gutter and I heard a motorcycle drive up. Only it was not the gutter – not really – and I did not know it was a motorcycle, either.

Here is why: Sometimes, I live in a small closet just off an abandoned freight elevator. The abandoned freight elevator is underground, under the ground of downtown Houston. So it is not really the gutter but is sort of the gutter. Dana calls it the gutter but Dana is not here.

Here is the thing about the motorcycle: I was meditating. It was sound. I did not label it “motorcycle” sound. Instead, my mind made a shape from the sound. From the texture. The texture was fuzzy but fuzzy the way metal shavings are fuzzy. Something like that.