maarmie's musings

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Mr. America

(photo of Mr. America won't post. Will try again later)

Meet Mr. America. He's insane. Literally. As best I can tell, anyway.

As I recall, Mr. America is a proud American originally from Yugoslavia who was in Union Square in full regalia during the Republican National Convention. Mr. America loves America. Mr. America loves GW. Mr. America would be willing to SAY (but probably not DO) anything, and I mean anything, to protect the reputation and goodstanding of his fine, fine country. Too bad he's insane. Literally.

I had the good fortune to see Mr. America in action in Union Square one day during the week of the Republican National Convention. Spread all around him on the ground were pairs of military boots and civilian shoes once belonging to those who ended up dying for this fine, fine country in a little-known war in Iraq. Mr. America appeared not to see the shoes and boots for he was too busy screaming...screaming...about what? Oh, yeah. About how much he loves America and stands behind George Bush. Anyone who doesn't, says Mr. America, can go back where they came from or go anywhere else at all - immediately, if not sooner. Reminds me of my former co-workers and managing editor at that paper in South Georgia.

While Mr. America was ranting and raving - at times directly in my face as I stared into those insane blue eyes and felt his hot breath on my nose, cheeks and mouth - Mr. Switzerland came up to see what the hubub was all about, bub. Turns out, Mr. Switzerland was not only NOT neutral, he was ANTI GEORGE BUSH! Mr. America and Mr. Switzerland almost threw punches, but Mr. Switzerland managed to de-escalate the confrontation before ambling away shaking his head. That's more like it.

I used to have audio tape of this mindless freak and the near-altercation, but I left the tape recorder and said tape in a fucking cab on my way to a NOW rally in Central Park. I made a missing item report - as if THAT would ever do any fucking good.


I hate John G. Roberts Jr. for obvious reasons. Another anti-christ here to make our lives hell. I hope you're happy, Bush. I know you are. I'm losing energy for fighting all the injustice. Will maarmie go on? Find out in the next episode of "As maarmie's World Turns."

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of maarmie's life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Photo Orgy

Following are some of the photographs I took during my trip on the AT. They are pretty self-explanatory. All photos taken by maarmie. Rip me off and die.

This is a photo of the conical ceiling and skylight in the yurt at which my friend and I stayed the night before the two-day hike and the night following it. Dahlonega, Georgia. Yurt: A cylindrical structure with a conical ceiling having two windows and a door. This was a more advanced yurt, however, as it had a deck area out front, a canopy bed and a composting toilet, and it was wired for electricity with a free-standing air conditioner, a coffee maker, fridge, microwave and electric heat source. Roughing it, huh?

Exterior shot of above-mentioned yurt.

This is what happened to my knees after I fell on my ass a quarter of a mile into the hike. The bottoms of my shoes were ripping off before the hike began, so I put some magic tape around them to bolster their sturdiness. In retrospect, these weren't the perfect shoes to hike 20 miles in on rugged terrain with 25 pounds on my back. Possible trail name because of the shoes and subsequent fall: Fallnee Down.

About four miles into our hike, we crossed a bridge. This is the view. Heaven. Hence the title of the shot, Organica Orgasmica.

Either this is the highest number of photos that can be in one post, or I'm going crazy. Won't let me upload any more using the button. Won't let me upload any more using HTML code. Hm. More later.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Judgment Day

My protest buddy, friend and mother figure, Michael, is going to D.C. Saturday to help surround the White House in protest of the senseless war in Iraq. He has been protesting the war right here in Tallahassee for about three years now, standing in front of the capitol every Thursday and Sunday singin' songs and a carryin' signs, as it were. Now that's diligence.

I have been invited along for the ride, but I don't want to spend the money to fly from Jacksonville for one little day in D.C. I normally would, but I'm going there at the end of October for Halloween madness.

I'm sad that I won't be there, but I'll be there in spirit. I know Michael will be enough force for the two of us, anyway, so my presence isn't really needed. He seems like a quiet guy, but don't get him around irrational police officers who try and quash his civil liberties. He scares even me in those situations. Trust me on this. We protested the Republican National Convention together, and because of his "intensity" with the more - shall we say - militant police officers, I was frightened for our safety (and freedom) on more than one occasion. While I am not as brave, I say YOU GO to Michael. Just don't GO around me unless I am wearing a bulletproof vest or loaded down with armor-piercing bullets and an arsenal.

Precautions, Michael, precautions.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rape Victims on Trial

It seems a new class of villian is emerging in the Middle East: Female rape victims are a whole new kind of scurrilous, sub-human scab that needs to be picked from this planet, according to Pakistani President Pervez "I want to cut his dick off" Musharraf.

Here's their nasty plan that must be foiled, says Musharraf: They decide they want to get away from their homeland to the "good land" so they devise a plan to get an easy ticket to Canada. That easy ticket, my friends, is rape.

The main pig of Pakistan is taking a lot of heat over his comments, comments which show him to be what he is: a heartless and backwards misogynist. At least he's in the Middle East where he belongs, right? Wrong. He was recently on U.S. soil addressing the U.N. General Assembly. Yikes. Maybe he and GW had a congenial chat over bourbon and cigars after.

But Canadian Prime Minster Paul Martin, Amnesty International (yay!) and Pakistani media are condemning his words, which include shit like, and I quote from CNN, "You must understand the environment in Pakistan...This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped."

Tomorrow, this fucker - who obviously has no problem blaming victims for their victimhood - will be in New York City chatting up a group of Pakistani-American women. I hope these women know their places and plan on shutting up and spreading their legs so Pakistan's leader can feel like he's doing what he was born to do.

There are a lot of great men in this world, but this kind of thing makes me glad to be a woman, a woman who DOESN'T live in Pakistan.

Just ask Mukhtaran Mai what it's like to be a woman in Pakistan. Three years ago, her brother, then 12, was chatting up some chick who was off limits to him, and the village council ordered HER gang-raped as a punishment to HIM. This same pig leader banned her (surprise, surprise) from going to a women's rights conference in the U.S. after that. The ban was later lifted when the media cried out causing the rest of the world to cry louder.

Here's what Mai, who has reached the status of human rights icon, said about Musharraf's most recent fumble: "Nobody does it intentionally. A large number of women are molested and insulted in the country. How many of them have made money? Such thinking about women is not good."

Rock on, Mai.

I'm Starting to Think...

...they WANTED the poor people to die.

Hero of the Week

Maureen Dowd, columnist, The New York Times

Thursday, September 15, 2005

...One Nation, Under Buddha


The country is watching you, Michael Newdow. And you look fabulous.

Newdow, an avowed atheist - who also happens to be a lawyer AND a doctor - who has been challenging the constitutionality of the phrase "one nation under god" in the Pledge of Allegiance, got more than his day in court Wednesday when U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton finally cut the guy some slack and ruled that reciting the pledge in public schools is, indeed, unconstitutional because the phrase in question essentially eliminates a child's right to choose what he or she believes as far as religion is concerned.

This ruling happened in Sacramento, and the judge said he would be preventing the recitation of the pledge in Sacramento County. Wow. However, expect appeal after appeal after appeal. Damn I hate those religious groups almost as much as I hate how much white-people religions are so deeply interwoven into the fabric of our government.

This is a major coup for Newdow who will have to be taken more seriously by higher courts now. When the Supreme Court tossed Newdow out on his ear, I wrote about it for the small-town, South Georgia newspaper I was working at at the time. Local reaction. You can imagine what it said. Except....

I found a little, tiny coffee shop on the main drag of the town I was working in that was (and maybe still is) frequented by a group of people not commonly found in a small southern place. They weren't young miscreants, either. They were just like you and me. Well, more like me, anyway - but older.

So, my story ended up being extremely balanced. A Baptist minister on this side, an atheist on the other, a school superintendent here, blah, blah, blah. I gave the pro-pledge side the last word in the article, however, because of my well-known bias against organized religion and brainwashing. Hey. Call me fair.

I can't find the article on-line, so I will get it from home and type it in here. I wrote it, so I feel free to reprint it here. If it's not supposed to be here, let me know. I'll take it down. Silence, however, equals permission in this case.


After All

A poem I wrote for an ex right after he became an ex.

You told me your life
didn't work out as planned
You gave me eyes
but told me not to see

You showed me the way
swept paths of debris
Path's all clear
but road's not clear

Hurt once too long
better disappear
Crush what I want
always crash what I want

I'll never understand
the way you spin
Even earth don't spin
random like you

Those cloudy eyes
them eyes don't see
They told me once
and once won't die

Forward thinking
never got me nowhere
For the first time I fly

For years - maarmie, 2001

Talking About My Dead Rose: It Is You

I've been told I'm a hopeless romantic. Here's a little bit of proof.

Talking About My Dead Rose: It Is You
O, red rose, come speak to me,
Now the wind
Whips through the trees, now
The shutters snap,
Snap go the shutters,
The only sounds I hear.

All the sweet Marjories and the not-
so-sweet Janes speak to me,
Like you should, from their
Quaint graves.
Lost souls; forgotten memories
Like the ones you give me, o rose.

Your bittersweet stench, still
Hot under my nose,
Fills my head,
A dizzying scent. I remember
Who I gave you to, now,
She is gone, gone now, gone, too.

All shriveled and crushed and sad
And flat you are,
All darkly brooding
In your allotted corner. Throwing
Accusations my way.
O, remembrances of a fresh you.

1993 - maarmie

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Undecidedly Unplural

Last night, I was talking with a friend on the phone, and, somehow, the conversation turned to definitions. And, somehow, I got my mind set on finding the perfect word that would describe or define me - or at least come very, very close.

I started with geek. Gangly? Antisocial? A freak? Not quite. Nerd? Similar, but not as severe. No. Outcast? Close. Then, my friend - who is excessively charming and has an entirely brilliant mind - had an idea as I began using many words to describe myself hoping that one of us could come up with the next word that would spark the next word and so on.

Luckily, he's a big fan of Sherlock Holmes. Luckily, there was a word Mr. Holmes used frequently that stuck in my friend's brain. Singular. BINGO.

Only the definitions that could be used in this context are included here, but this is according to Webster.

Singular - Sin´gu`lar. Pronunciation: sĭņ´gũ`lẽr
Separate or apart from others; single; distinct.

(Logic) Existing by itself; single; individual.

Standing by itself; out of the ordinary course; unusual; uncommon; strange; as, a singular phenomenon.

Distinguished as existing in a very high degree; rarely equaled; eminent; extraordinary; exceptional; as, a man of singular gravity or attainments.

Departing from general usage or expectations; odd; whimsical; - often implying disapproval or censure.

Being alone; belonging to, or being, that of which there is but one; unique.

Related Words
abnormal, absurd, alone, anomalous, atypical, conspicuous, curious, deviant, different, distinct, divergent, dotty, dual, erratic, esoteric, freakish, funny, idiosyncratic, irregular, isolated, kinky, kooky, lone, notable, noteworthy, nutty, oddball, off, offbeat, one and only, outlandish, outre, outstanding, quaint, queer, quintessential, quirky, screwy, separate, significant, special, superior, twisted, unanalyzable, unconventional, unimaginable, unique, unordinary, wacky, weird, whimsical, whole, wondrous

The related words certainly do ring a bell. Now, for a lovely quote about singularity.

To be singular in anything that is wise and worthy, is not a disparagement, but a praise. - Tillotson.


Four items on which I must comment:

Sept. 11

It's good to remember those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Sunday marks the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that changed New York for, oh, a whole couple months at least.

People became (more) guarded and fearful as government officials spread their propanda about imminent future terrorist attacks and dedicated billions of dollars to homeland security, money yanked from other programs that actually do some good in this country. The terror alert went from yellow, to orange to red and back again. Americans were kept on their toes believing every goddamn lie and piece of shit speculation the government fed them. God knows what the government was actually doing while Ma and Pa Kettle were sitting on their porches, shotguns in hand and waiting for Osama to step foot in their neck of the woods.

So, here we are. Terror mostly forgotten. Not forgotten are those who died, including firefighters and other professionals who lost their lives trying to save people trapped in the wreckage that used to be the REAL nexus of evil in this country. Why are they dead? Because our government is staffed by bullies who foolishly think they can continue to kick sand in the faces of all the children on the playground and not have to pay the piper, so to speak. Ignoramuses that they are, they don't learn from their mistakes, either. Hopefully, more people don't have to die as a result of their continued idiocy.


Former Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede has escaped criminal charges for secretly audiotaping interviews with Arthur E. Teele Jr. - Miami's former city commissioner who decided to blow his brains out in the Herald's lobby a while back after his nefariousness was exposed in the pages of one of Florida's largest newspapers - but is still without his job. The Herald refuses to take him back.

While I'm sure he was good at his job and that he will be missed, the Herald has not only a right but also a duty to uphold its standards. After all the bullshit that's been going on at major and minor news outlets lately, media overseers need to be stringent and public about their "no tolerance" policies and weed out even minor infractors.

The public's faith in journalism has been shaken, and rightfully so. Hopefully, if managers stay diligent, that faith will one day be restored.

Culprit Fingered

The six-month-old mystery of The Chili Finger Caper has come to an end, and the culprits will soon be sentenced. Anna Ayala, who in March allegedly found a fingertip in her bowl of Wendy's chili, has pleaded guilty, along with husband Jaime Placencia, to conspiring to file a false claim and attempted grand theft.

Looking for a big buttload of quick cash, Ayala prepped herself to file a lawsuit against the chain for the alleged incident and was busted after she withdrew her claim. The fingertip? It belonged to a co-worker of hers who lost it in an accident. According to the Associated Press, Ayala faces up to 10 years in state prison. Her hubby faces up to 13 years.

Good. Phony lawsuits suck.

Coup for Cane Cutters

Sugar-cane cutters, more than 1,000 of them, successfully earned the right to recover lost wages when a federal court judge in West Palm Beach determined Thursday they are owed back pay after they were paid per pound when, by law, they should have been paid a fixed rate per hour of work. Also, they say, they were shortchanged on their timesheets and underpaid what was offered via contract.

What can I say? The company they got $5 million from is Osceola Farms, a subsidiary of Flo-Sun Inc., one of the largest sugar cane producers in the country which happens to be, in my opinion, one of the biggest piece of shit companies out there. The company is destroying the environment, fucking over its employees (most of them coming from the Caribbean and, no doubt, living in slave camps) and making a bundle in the process. I have a big problem with that. It's good that the judge felt the same way and made the workers victorious in this landmark class-action suit.

To many more employment lawsuits! Workers unite!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


From CNN. No commentary necessary.

Bush: 'I take responsibility' for U.S. failures on Katrina
Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- President Bush on Tuesday said he takes responsibility for the federal government's failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said during a joint news conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Bush said he wants to know what went right and what went wrong so that he can determine whether the United States was prepared for another storm, or an attack.

"I'm not going to defend the process going in, but I am going to defend the people who are on the front line of saving lives," Bush said.

Earlier in the day, the White House announced the president will address the nation Thursday night about recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast.

Brown Has Stepped Down

Good boy. You did the right thing. Were you "let go" or did you really resign? It doesn't matter at this point. Run free, FORMER director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Run like the wind.

Monday, September 12, 2005

(White) House Surrounded

Mad as hell? Visible? Cohesive? GWB, there's a hole in your bucket, and it's getting ready to be filled.

About 100,000 anti-war protestors are expected to surround the White House for a rally on Sept. 24. According to the Washington Post, this will be the first time a protest has completely surrounded America's holiest of houses in more than a decade.

This happening and other anti-war events will take place throughout three days (Sept. 24 - 26) and will be sponsored by United for Justice with Peace and the ANSWER coalition. Umbrella groups include the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the DeKalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice, Grandmothers for Peace, Historians Against the War, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Kalamazoo Non-Violent Opponents of War (KNOW), Texans for Peace, Korea Truth Commission and dozens more, according to the Post. According to the article, people's rage about the continuing war has recently been fueled by the minimal response to the Katrina disaster, the minimal response being blamed on a lack of resources due to the war. The groups stress they are not anti-soldier. They are anti-war. There's a difference, for you fuckers who can't see that.

Buses, vans and carpools, people, are carting in folks from all over the country for this powwow. I'm sanctioning a jump on this bandwagon if you can get time off work. I'd love to be there to talk to people, add to the mayhem and take photographs.

I got this info off Michael Moore's Web site. It's worth checking out.

My Favorite Quote - Ever

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." - - Albert Einstein

Friday, September 09, 2005

My Application Essay for the Guardian Ad Litem Program

While my parents never failed to provide my brother and I with the basic necessities of life - food, shelter and clothing - they consistently failed to provide psychological and emotional support. Cold, demeaning and emotionally neglectful, my parents were neither mentally nor emotionally equipped to handle the immense task of the raising of children in a positive way.

By the time I was six months old and my brother, Brian, was age four, our biological mother had left. By the time I was seven years old, our father had settled in Florida and remarried three times, the last time to a woman who didn't have children of her own and seemed to think of my brother and I as mere accessories to the life for which she had signed up.

While my parents were fastidiously occupied with their marriage and demanding career climbs, my brother and I were busy raising ourselves. He left home at age 18 to get married and join the military. I finished high school with a string of honors and advanced placement classes behind me. However, having felt like an unwanted guest in my own house for many years, I forewent college after graduation, and, at age 18 and saddled with incredibly low self esteem and the tendency to involve myself in romantic relationships that would batter my body and bruise my esteem all the more, left home to be homeless.

Three years later, I wrenched myself from a physically and emotionally abusive boyfriend and, not long afterward, started community college without the support of my parents. Five years later, I graduated from college with a degree in communications and have lived all over the country since then working mostly at various newspapers writing about crime, politics, education, art, the environment and people who are both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. Most proudly, though, I have written about the debilitating personal and social effects of domestic violence and childhood abuse and the experience of it as seen through the eyes of the overwhelmingly strong and courageous women and children who have lived and survived it. I also have written about domestic violence and childhood neglect as seen through the lens of my own experience.

Throughout these moves and endeavors, I have learned more about myself, others and society and have come to have a better understanding of the inner and outer forces that make me - and others like me - who we are and of the inner and outer forces that compel others to hurt and neglect those they profess to love.

The six things I love in this world, besides my brother and my good friends, are truth, justice, equality, wisdom, humor and beauty. In my life, I have encountered each of these things - things that make life worth living - many times in the most unexpected of places. However, I, too, have encountered the flip side of these concepts and ideals: lies, ignorance, abuses of power and blind indifference to atrocity. I'm not entirely sure where my professional life is headed, and I could say that, in my volunteer life, what I want most is to help vulnerable people who don't have the power to help themselves in an effort to wipe out abuse and injustice. Abuse and injustice will never be wiped out in my opinion, however, so my goal here is to be a voice for those who are voiceless and to help America's most vulnerable population find its way through situations it didn't choose to safer, more nurturing places.

Brown Made a Boo Boo

FEMA Director Brown has made a series of big boo boos, and he now has to pay for them. It seems Chertoff is sending Brown back to D.C. with his tail between his legs and has, hopefully, appointed someone more competent to head up New Orleans disaster relief. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts, has been chosen to head things up. The right man for the job, finally? We can only hope. Brown, quit lying on your resume, and go do your thing with horses like you were bred to do. Leave the big jobs to people who are actually willing and able to accomplish something.

Readers Respond

Finally. A dissenting viewpoint. I. Love. It.

Reader: "Whine. Bitch. Moan. Why doesn't the government take care of me? Did the Feds respond as quickly as they could or should have? No. More importantly, did the STATE respond as quickly as they should have? No. It is important to remember that the Feds can't, don't, and SHOULDN'T just go storming into state taking autonomous action. The state has primary police power over its citizens and the primary duty to provide for the general welfare in situations like this. The Feds certainly have immense resources that can be brought to bear, but the primary onus is upon the state."

maarmie: Good point. But when people are trying to leave New Orleans on foot (sometimes the only transportation the people had) and they are being turned back by police, there's something wrong. When Wal-Mart (oh, how I hate that company, but it actually did something nice) is sending semi-truck loads of water to the area and those are being turned away, there's something wrong.

R: "Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending Bush. What I'm doing is trying to provide the Civics lesson that the schools seem to have stopped giving so many years ago. Why so much focus on the Feds and nearly none on the governor of Louisiana? They knew that they had all these people living where people shouldn't live - they knew their levy system was only rated to Category 3 - they knew what would happen if those levies failed."

m: Yes, everyone knew. A little, tiny unknown magazine called National Geographic last year carried a HUGE article about what would happen if a cateogry whatever hurricane struck New Orleans. Officials and engineers have been publicly discussing the situation for years. Why weren't steps taken to prepare? I guess everyone involved dropped the ball.

R: "But ignore the government for a minute. Only bleeding heart, pansy ass liberals blame everything on the government without at least asking the personal responsibility question. Did these poor victims not know a hurricane was coming? Did they not know that they lived below sea level and were virtually surrounded by billions of gallons of water that desperately wanted to be where they were? Did they not know that standard practice for hurricane preparedness is to have 7 days of food, water, medicine, and necessities on hand? If they couldn't afford to flee, I guess I have to accept that. With that much advance notice though, I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find *some way* to leave."

m: Admittedly, some people did not want to leave the area they and their families had lived in for generations and generations. That's their own problem, I guess. But, again, from what I understand, some people WANTED to leave and were not allowed that most basic of civil liberties.

R: "I mean we're not talking World Trade Center here that just hits out of the blue and you'd never expect it in a million years. We're talking about something that happens every fucking year - we even have a fucking season for it - "hurricane season". So these people sit the fuck back and do nothing for themselves and expect that the moment the shit hits the fan that the mommy state will be there for them to kiss it and make it better. Sorry, but it just doesn't fucking work like that. Shit takes time. You want it faster? Provide for yourself."

m: Well said. And off-duty emergency workers, nurses, etc. as well as companies and average citizens have done just that. They have done more than prove their altruism, though. They have proven that we, as average people who possess great skills, can do a better job of getting things done than this government we place so much trust in.

R: "Of course *some* people were prepared, did have a week of food, water, and medicine, and while they certainly weren't the most comfortable they've ever been, they had the buffer to then be able to wait for relief to arrive and not die in the process. When you depend upon someone else for your basic survival you are setting yourself up for grave disappointment. Don't like it? Tough shit. Fucking do something about it. There's not one single mother fucking person in this country that can't go to college if they want to. Too lazy? Don't go. But don't bitch about the result of your decision."

m: I agree. However, there are so many social ills and things that keep people from reaching their full potential. I'm not making excuses for laziness or resignation. I'm simply understanding of it. When you are born into a life that, from the very beginning, has so many chips stacked against it, you can tend to not put a lot of value on it. Your parents don't. None of your relatives do. Your teachers don't. Society doesn't. So it takes a very strong person to, from the time he or she is a child, not believe that he or she is worthless when so many people who claim to be nurturers and protectors are telling her or him, consciously or subconsciously, this is so. Laziness tends to breed laziness. Resignation tends to breed resignation. Violence tends to breed violence. Ignorance tends to breed ignorance. There are cycles to everything.

R: "And with regard to the piece of shit miscreants shooting at the people who are trying to help, and looting merchandise businesses, and committing all manner of rape and robbery, the National Guard should shoot every single one of them. Now if someone is looting a grocery store because their food stocks were destroyed or they were unprepared, that's fine - if you have to choose between that minor crime and dying, you commit the crime. But stealing TVs has no benefit to survival."

m: I agree. They should be prosecuted for the crimes they committed just as people would who weren't in that situation.

R: "Come on people - think. Are you really so fucking lame that you expect to have no preparedness for an event you know is going to occur, and then bitch that the mommy state wasn't fast enough for you?"

Thank you for your comments. Everyone is entitled to his or her own viewpoint on maarmie's musings.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hurricane Shmurricane

J: Back to you, maarmie, with more about the hurricane.

m: Thanks, John. This not just in but just being reported. President Bush isn't the only incompetent moron who bungled the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans. Sure, he didn't come off his important vacation for days after the city was on its way to being in ruins and thousands of people were dead and dying, but FEMA dropped the ball, too, by not responding in a diligent fashion. It seems FEMA director Michael Brown was more concerned about connecting with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to get the PR machine up and running again - to save the president the embarrassment he is due for his callous indifference to all this human suffering. Brown wasn't so much interested in damage control in New Orleans, John, but with damage control of the president's approval rating and with how the nation viewed his intense lapse of judgment. Bush rewarded Brown's quick action with a two thumbs-up at a press conference while the city drowned. The first lady, ever an astute observer and understander of the human condition, remarked that the poor people who were forced into the Superdome were faring much better there than they had been before Katrina struck. It's good to know that the top woman in this country cares so much about the health and safety of one of its most vulnerable populations.

J: maarmie, have you learned of any new developments?

m: No, John. I've had my head up my ass for the last week, so let me regurgitate what I've learned from Oprah and The Daily Show. You know, Jon Stewart is such a card.

J: Yes, he is.

m: Yes, indeed, he is.

J: (silence)

m: Yes, indeedy. He is, isn't he?

J: (unsure) Yes. He is.

m: Yeah. That's what I thought. He's pretty funny.

J: (tense) Well, what did he say, maarmie? Our viewers want to know.

m: Well, John, the venerable Mr. Stewart came back from his own week of vacation and asked if anything had happened while he was gone. See? Funny stuff! Then, in Jon Stewartlike fashion, he excoriated the prez.

J: Excoriated?

m: It's a verb, John, and it, apparently, has two definitions. But don't worry, John. Stewart didn't tear the skin off Bush. He denounced him. Yep, that's what he did.

J: He did?

m: Strongly.

J: Wow.

m: Yeah. Wow. Oprah, on the other hand, took a more......conservative stance where blaming the government was concerned. She did a whole show on location in the affected areas, John. It was amazing. She did the show with her hair pulled back, and, get this! NO MAKEUP! She was one of us for a day, John. One of us.

J: (incredulous) One of us? That's amazing, maarmie.

m: Yeah. Truly. Truly, truly amazing, John.

J: (on the edge of his seat, eager for enlightenment) What did she say?

m: She rallied all her superstar friends together to give aid to those in need, John. They were all over the place down there. Matthew McConaughey, Lisa Marie Presley, Chris Rock. You name them, they were there. McConaughey has a thing for animals, see. And he flew in on a chopper and landed at this hospital in downtown New Orleans where an anesthesiologist was holed up with, like, 50 dogs, 18 cats and two hamsters. So. Cute. These doggie woggies were so cutie wutie and they had these big, sad eyes. They missed mommy and daddy.

J: (unsure) Cutie wutie?

m: So majorly cute, John.

J: Go on.

m: So he went to this hospital where the doc was holed up without electricity, food or water and took the animals out by boat so the doctor could get to safer ground. Not only did he hold and pet the animals, but he returned them to their rightful owners. That's a good soul, there, John. A good one.

J: Darn good. That's heartwarming, maarmie.

m: Yep. And the kid of the King of Rock was passing out food and diapers to those left homeless and in shelters, John. She went to Target HERSELF, John, and bought diapers, socks, T-shirts, toothpaste. Whatever she thought they would need. She spent thousands there. The camera showed the total while the lady was ringing stuff up.

J: Thousands? That's generous.

m: Way.

J: (on edge of seat again) And Chris Rock? What did he do? Did he entertain with one of his routines? They need a good diversion, you know.

m: Yeah, I know. A comedy routine would've been just what the doctor ordered, John. But he was so selfish that all he did was go talk to poor people left with nothing and pack box after box with food to pass out to the stranded.

J: (with disappointment) Oh.

m: That's all we have time for, now, John. When I get more news, you will, too.

J: Thanks a bunch, maarmie. (dripping with falsity with rueful eyes trained on the camera) In these trying times, we need to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. Even celebrities can forget their posh lives for at least a day to give so freely of themselves. Dear viewers, you can, too.

m: So true, John. So true.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Notes from the AT

Friday, Sept. 2
Tripped over a root one-quarter of a mile in and fell on left knee. Hurt bad. Stayed on ass for cigarette/water break. Lunch at Stover Creek Shelter 1.5 miles in. Apple, cheese, dried fruit, Ritz, ham, tuna. Peed in woods. At shelter, someone left behind tablets of water purifier, a pot, a pacifier and a lost dog sign. Yellow lab named Bailey. Lost in July. Last seen on Springer Mountain summit. For next time: knee pads and Ben Gay.

Later that day
Made it the five miles to Hawk Mountain Shelter. It's amazing the energy a well-timed granola bar or two can give you. The incline had us stopping every few minutes to catch our breaths. At one point, I was on the ground internally bargaining for a reprieve. Charlene is filling the platypus with water. I'm decompressing. Three aspirin, tons of cigarettes, the rest of my two liters of water. Then, I will be centered. Turkey tetrazzini for dinner. Yum! This shelter has a loft. This is all I crave.

Saturday, Sept. 3
Survived my FIRST NIGHT EVER in the woods. By 9 p.m., sun down. Scared. Staring into the darkness. Fatigue overcame, and I tried for sleep. Woke up at every crack, creak and rustle. Sat up nervously clutching my knife, and, twice, clutching Charlene to wake her up with "there's something out there" and "I heard a noise." Yesterday, no sign of any mammal. Just bees, gnats, flies, butterflies, daddy longlegs and a weird bug that didn't run or fly when prodded. Body efficient. Didn't take much food yesterday to be satisfied. Only peed once though drank at least two liters of water. 4 a.m. Waking up Charlene for the third time. Praying for 6 a.m. and the promise of sunlight. It was 4. 6:30 a.m. Sun coming up. Fear dissipating. Heard mice. Saw a chipmunk this morning. No birds yet. Hear planes. Helicopters. Shit and peed in the privvy. Helped Char get water from stream. Breakfast of freeze-dried scrambled eggs with salt, strong black tea (no sugar) and brown sugar oatmeal. Handful of dried fruit. 7.5 miles to Springer. It's a beautiful day.

Sunday, Sept. 4
Hiked about 9 miles from Hawk Mountain Shelter to Springer Mountain Shelter including a stop at a waterfall for lunch. Passed lots of people on trail - most doing day or short hikes. Met two lesbians at Hawk Mountain on their way to Springer. One had been doing the trail in sections for 15 years and was completing the last eight miles to Springer, the southern terminus. The trek back, though longer, was not as rough. Shoulders and back noticeably stronger. More sure footed. Never fell. Never even stumbled. Got to Springer Shelter after a .9-mile climb that was up, up, up and rocky. Not expecting that. The .9 felt like 5.9. A man and his very talkative boy were eating dinner (mashed potatoes and ramen) and the lesbians were packing up dinner while we heated our water for freeze-dried lasagna. Dinner was good. Sat up til 12:30 with Peter and his dog, Mickey, after building a confessional fire. Talked about books, relationships, meeting people and breakups. He's post-dumped from a long-distance relationship with what sounds like an immature woman who manipulated him and then dumped him for another guy - did it in a way to con him into still being her "friend." He sent her a letter putting her in her place. Hasn't heard from her since. He's sweet, smart and cute. He'll have no problems meeting someone else who is fantastic. Ready for breakfast and a water run. Today we go to Springer summit, back to Dahlonega. Springer shelter is known for its bears, and we hung our food last night. Char and I slept in the loft. Peter and Mickey slept on the ground floor. I felt safe. Up around 7. Got food and water. Cooked breakfast. Last leg of journey. It's been good.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Bears and Love the Trail

Update on 2.5-day AT hike to come. But, for now, I want to rant about the devastation in New Orleans, etc.

George W. Bush is a fucking fucker who needs to go fuck himself and every one of his cronies as well as those who pull his strings. PEOPLE ARE DEAD! PEOPLE ARE DYING! PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY! PEOPLE ARE HURT! PEOPLE ARE SCARED! This includes WOMEN, MEN, CHILDREN, ELDERLY PEOPLE, DISABLED PEOPLE, ANIMALS, ETC., ETC., ETC. Hello? Is anyone out there? Is the President watching? Or did he unplug his TV and go on vacation - AGAIN?

Once again, I am saddened and ashamed to be an American. I am ashamed that, in this country, we care more about spreading our fucking regime around the globe than about taking care of our own citizens. That we care more about rich people than we do about those who need our help. That we care more about big businesses than about the very people who make those businesses possible: employees and consumers. Jesus fucking Christ, folks. Does it bother you that this government DOES. NOT. FUCKING. GIVE. A. RAT'S. ASS. ABOUT. YOU. AND. NEVER. WILL.

Fuck you, Georgie. You're not my president. You never were. You never will be. You deserve prison for this and many other acts of heartlessness and cowardice. I hope you one day rot.

Links to news articles about Hurricane Katrina

The Times-Picayune is keeping its readers up-to-date via the Internet

Latest Times article with links to other Times coverage

E. Coli update from CNN with links to other CNN coverage

The hurricane according to with links to other coverage

Nothing beats the BBC

The New Yorker goes hurricane

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hiking the AT (aka Conquering all Fear)

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Smokies - photo/maarmie

Tomorrow, I set out on my four-day adventure. A colleague of mine who grew up in North Carolina and knows a lot of the Appalachian Trail like the back of her hand is graciously dragging me on an AT adventure to make me less of a chickenshit and to make me prove to myself that my balls are bigger than a pair of peas.

My first experience with the AT came a couple of months ago when I traveled to Hot Springs, N.C., on a solo adventure that involved whitewater rafting (level 1-4 rapids!), horseback riding, a 90-minute massage, a dip in natural hot springs, and days of driving hundreds of miles through the Smoky Mountain National Forest and along the part of the Blue Ridge Parkway that starts at the northern end of the SMNF (in Tennessee) and runs southeast until it goes northeast to Asheville, which sits 37 miles southeast of Hot Springs.

I found a part of the trail that runs through Hot Springs (one of the few downtowns through which the AT actually runs) and followed it into the woods at the edge of town. I wanted to go the 1.6 miles to Lover's Leap, a high ridge that is good for the scenery and taking pictures. I sat at the foot of that trail and decided that NO. WAY. IN. HELL. was I ever going to attempt it. I cried. I bargained. I pleaded to whatever god may exist for the courage to attempt it alone. You're not understanding me correctly, I'm presuming. This wasn't just any trail. It was a footpath that was wide enough for exactly one foot which ran straight up over this stream into THE THICKEST WOODS I HAVE EVER SEEN. Bears? Snakes? Crazy mountain men with hatchets and penchants for young girls who are dumb enough to venture into the wilderness alone? I don't think so.

So, I sat at the foot of this trail and yelled at myself and berated myself into such a tizzy that I had to take a shit. I walked over to the edge of the woods, took down my pants and proved to myself that I could, indeed, shit in the woods. It was exhilerating and is something I will, no doubt, need to do sometime during these three days and two nights on the trail.

I finally convinced myself to take one step, then another, then another, until I was deep in the woods. With every step, I yelled out "helllooooo!" in an effort to scare off any black bears that may have been waiting just around each turn. The steps became more and more painful the further away from the clearing and parking lot I got. After I had gone about a quarter of a mile, I realized enough was enough, and I turned around and practically ran back to my car. I sat there for an hour longer and bargained and pleaded and yelled at myself and subjected myself to torture. All I wanted was that 1.6 miles. I never got it.

Now I will.