Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Got Nothin'

Y’all, I got nothin’. 

I had a different post planned for last week. And then I got mad. Since posting while mad is probably in the Top 10 of things not to do on a blog, I waited.

Yep. Still Mad.

So I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about power and sex and – well – Schwarzenegger. And it ain’t happening. Maybe it’s excessive testosterone, maybe it’s the heightened sense of importance that goes with high-profile positions. I think it's simply that these men are total jackholes, but the proclivity of powerful men to cheat on the strong woman who are their wives seems to be ever more pervasive. And it’s pissing me off. What makes the Schwarzenegger situation all the worst is that his chosen paramour was a woman under his employ, a blatant, unforgivable abuse of power, whether it was consensual or not. Don’t even get me started on the dueling births of mistress and wife.

In Romancelandia, the hero archetype, alpha or otherwise, is empowered by his strong heroine counterpart, not emasculated. Our genre is derided by the world at large, scorned for its fantasy elements, for an unrealistic portrayal of love and life, and yet it’s the one place where you can almost universally find respect and love between partners…after 400 or so pages of angst and conflict and hot (or gentle, if that’s your poison) sex.

But that was last week.

That was before the worst tornado in Missouri history tore the City of Joplin and the lives of its 40,000+ people to pieces, only the latest in a year of devastating weather events around the world. 124 people are confirmed dead in Joplin; another 7 have died in Oklahoma tonight from another tornado as I’ve been writing this post. Texas is also under meteorological siege tonight from tornadoes.

Whatever your belief system, all of us can agree that the recent rash of natural disasters is frightening – and awesome as in worthy of awe. I read this Sports Illustrated article about last month’s storms in Alabama right before Joplin, MO was hit this past weekend, and was touched by the people who showed up, pitched in, and supported one another.

As I write this at 11 PM EST, another tornado is headed for Joplin. More families will be homeless. More lives are about to be ripped apart. And sex and power and, more than anything, Schwarzenegger, are suddenly the most unimportant things in America.

Well, maybe not sex.

If you are able to help in any way, shape, or form, please contact the Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. They are also available for moment by moment updates on Twitter at @RedCross and I also recommend @BreakingNews for timely updates as the storms continue.

Stay safe. Be Well. Remain Thankful. Have Faith. 

Otherwise, we've all got nothin'.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Merry Month of May

I love May. Despite being a summer baby, May is my absolute favorite month of the year. The never-ending rains of April abate – and they felt particularly endless this year – and the flowers and trees rejoice. May reminds me why I love New Jersey, why it’s called the Garden State, and why I am so glad to be back in suburbia. The beginning of the month brought with it came a particularly strident time at The Day Job, which has fortunately tapered off just as the thermostat remembers how to reach 70.

The merry month of May typically starts off with bells. The May Day bells of Oxford University, Oxford England, that is. In Oxford, May is sung in by the choir and boy choristers of Magdalen College from the top of Magdalen Tower.
Too right.

The year I was a student there, I got to experience this May Day tradition first hand. Friends of mine studying in southern England had come up to Oxford for the weekend.We splurged on a cab to take us in around 4 AM to be as close as we could get to the base of Magdalen Tower by 6 AM

The streets teemed with people making their way down to Tower Bridge. Many were students in formal wear ending their the all night parties with the May Day music. After the Magdalen College choir sang and the bells rang, some of these same students would strip to the skin and jump off the bridge into the River Cherwell.

Ah. Tradition.

But first the music.

It was cool, it was crowded, and it was a glorious morning. As I remember, we were early enough to make it down to the edge of Tower Bridge, well positioned to hear the choirs.
I’d heard crowds go silent before, but I’d never heard an entire city go quiet up to that day. As the choir sang the Hymnus Eucharisticus followed quickly by “Sumer Is Icumen In” in Middle English, the music rang through the hushed streets and the sun broke out over the gleaming city spires.

Download this mp3 from

Then the drunken co-eds jumped off the bridge naked, shouting inaudibly – probably also in Middle English.

The absolute best part was when, crammed shoulder to shoulder in the crowd, my tiny, conservative Haitian housemate was goosed by one of the soaking wet, naked men on his way back up the bridge to reclaim his clothes.

(These day, Oxford has closed the Tower Bridge on May Day morning to prevent jumpers as the River Cherwell is only about 2 feet deep below the bridge. Buzz killers.)

After the choir sang, the bells rang out and the city danced. Literally. Morris dancers stepped lively in groups throughout the city. Restaurants featured special May Day breakfasts for weary revelers with deep pockets. We poor students instead traipsed over to our beloved George & Davies ice-cream shop for free hot chocolate and what I still say was the only decent bagel in all of Britain. I don’t know why an ice-cream shop sold bagels; I was merely grateful. They also had homemade Bailey’s ice cream. A whole lotta yum.

Hands down one of my all time best memories of that life-altering year in that amazing city. Ever since, I cue up the YouTube videos of Oxford on May Day to ring in spring the proper way. Look here's one now!

This year, however, May also began with a bang. An artillery bang, among other ordinances as the Special Forces soldiers stormed through Osama bin Laden’s stronghold, killing the man who masterminded the greatest terrorist attack ever perpetrated against the United States. The word of his death exploded across the zeitgeist late Sunday night; my Twitter feed nearly burned up as real-time posts came fast and furious. I could barely reply or post myself before another 20 to 30 new tweets and retweets and news briefs and rumors replenished the feed. 

I can’t answer for anyone else but I’m mighty glad that man is dead, and have no need or inclination to apologize for it. Not everyone feels that way; many believe that rejoicing in another person's death is wrong no matter what that person has done or to whom he/she may have done it.

Everyone has to decided for themselves how best to respond to bin Laden’s death. Having seen the devastation wrought upon my city, upon the Towers where I had taken my first steps as a professional, having held my mother through violent panic attacks due to the carnage she witnessed firsthand as a Red Cross responder, having lost family friends on Flight 93, I only have this one thing to say:


May your month be as merry as the day is long and filled with more bells than bangs. Leave a comment and tell me what excellent plans you have for this lovely spring. I’ll choose a winner to partake of The Mighty Basket of Win and hopefully add some more brightness to your May.