Pooey! Others’ significant others, and my roommates

I ain’t gonna work and I ain’t gonna study, Just gonna toke up with my buddy.

roommatesI believe this is the end of the Ask Roger Anything questions for this round:

New York Erratic queries:

What have been your best and worst room mates?

Oh, I’ve had a LOT of bad roommates. In New Paltz, NY, I had two guys, both named Mike, who, for some reason, hated each other. I mean, throwing chairs at each other disdain. I ended having to play interlocutor for them.

Any of my roommates who smoked inside; that was a drag. (Pardon the pun.)

I had one roomie who wasn’t bad, but his estranged wife calling at 4 a.m. was no fun.

I was in loco parentis for a 17-year-old when I was 25. THAT was a mistake. And the third roommate was an artist, so when I’d walk into our apartment, I’d get yelled at by people I didn’t even know because it made some nude model in the living room, who I didn’t even know would be there, cold.

Romantic entanglements muddle the question. There have been people who were great in sharing the space, but emotional stuff got in the way. Or conversely, the Wife, who is otherwise great, but puts away my stuff so that, not only I can’t find it, but SHE cannot.

My best roomie was probably my first one in college, Ron, who was tidy without being oppressive, and we left each other’s stuff alone.

When someone has a pooey spouse or SO, what do you do? Butt in, say nothing, or some other option? Why?.

Pooey? Really? What does that mean?

Well, it depends on what way they are “pooey” AND how my friend feels about it. Are they just loud, or obnoxious, or have crummy politics? I can overlook that.

If my friend has a jerk for a boyfriend, I’m not going to say anything, unless he/she brings it up. That is unless I believe the friend is in danger of being harmed, or kids in their care might be imperiled.

I’ve actually been in the situation a few times, usually women in relationships with men who were not worthy of their time and energy, though the reverse has also been true. The guys were emotionally abusive, but not physically.

There’s always that tricky line between being helpful, and being patronizing. Adults have the right to make bad decisions unless real damage is possible. And what is “real damage”? One tends to decide this on a case-by-case basis.

Now, I have also been involved when someone was actually abusive and was supportive in getting her away from him.

You wanna give me some examples?
Arthur inquires:

What ONE thing always pops into you head when you think of your university years?

For some reason, the phrase “your university years” made me wish I had a tweed jacket.

Anyway, it is the college alma mater:

New, New, New Paltz…
New, New, New Paltz…
New Paltz is good enough for me.
I ain’t gonna work and I ain’t gonna study,
Just gonna toke up with my buddy,
New Paltz is good enough for me!!!!!!

OK, it wasn’t the alma mater. In fact, I could not tell you the NAME of the alma mater, if you offered me a million dollars. THIS song, though, was well known on campus in the 1970s, since it was such a druggy school, and, as it turns out, it still is. This news surprised me because the narrative is that the administration was “cleaning up” the school.
Thanks to all of you who participated!

The religion of literate librarians

MockingbirdAs part of the Ask Roger Anything process, Arthur is hankering for me to write about religion:

What’s one thing you just don’t “get” about non-believers?

The need, at least for some of them, to ascribe all the problems in of the world at the feet of religion. Taking the issue of same-sex marriage, in the US, you see that a majority of white mainline Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and especially Jews are supportive.

Surely, horrific things have happened, and continue to take place, in the purported name of God/Allah. It’s just as certain that awful things happened in no deity’s name, and that decent, even wonderful, things take place through the works of people following their religious beliefs.

A corollary, I suppose, is the easy willingness to point to some group of purported Christians, and INSIST that they represent Christianity as a whole. The Ku Klux Klan claim to be Christian; it does not follow that the KKK represents Christianity. Nor do those folks out of Kansas, the Westboro Baptist Church represent my understanding of living a Christ-centered life.

I think it makes me irritable for the same reason that one black person’s flaws seem to be attributed to the whole race.

Just recently, through Daily Kos, I came across Faithful America, which says it “is the largest and fastest-growing online community of Christians putting faith into action for social justice. Our members are sick of sitting by quietly while Jesus’ message of good news is hijacked by the religious right to serve a hateful political agenda. We’re organizing the faithful to challenge such extremism and renew the church’s prophetic role in building a more free and just society.”

What’s one thing you wish non-believers understood about your faith position (and what’s a better word for that—I’m drawing a blank…)?

darthreligionI don’t know what term you’re looking for. My theology? My belief system? Fred? I’m not humorless about my faith; I really liked Monty Python’s Life of Brian, BTW.

There is a degree of uncertainty not only for me but in lots of thinking people.

Listening to the families of the victims in Charleston, many said that their faith required them to forgive the presumed killer, but it wasn’t easy. Some folks were practically apologetic about not being at that point yet. It was a very relatable struggle.

For most of us, faith is a process. Most of the mainline churches have evolved on issues of race fairness, gender equality, gay rights, et al. If the source material hasn’t changed, it must be the Holy Spirit working in us.

An example: from 1939 to 1968, the Methodist Church, prior to becoming the United Methodist Church, had something called the Central Jurisdiction, which “formally established segregation as official church policy.” It would be unthinkable today.
SamuraiFrog is curious to know:

What’s a misconception people tend to have about librarians?

That we’re humorless, that we all have buns in our hair, that all we do at work is read all day. (And when I worked at a comic book store, I didn’t read comics all day, either.)

One of the things I’ve noticed as president of the Friends of the Albany Public Library is that so much of the work involves providing Internet connections for those without them, assisting people who are seeking employment, and being a locale that provides a hub for the community.

The struggle for libraries nationally is that people who don’t use them seem to think they’re passe because “everyone” has e-readers. Well, most libraries have e-books.

What book have you owned the longest?

Play the Game: the Book of Sport, edited by Mitchell V. Charnley (1931). This was an anthology of sports stories from American Boy magazine from 1923 to 1931, stories which I read over and over. I have no idea how I got it, but I feel like I’ve always had it. The cover, BTW, is green.

This isn’t the oldest book I own though. That honor probably goes to a Methodist hymnal with an 1849 copyright date. In the mid-1980s, my girlfriend at the time bought it for me for the handsome sum of $2.50. It has a LOT of hymns by Charles Wesley, many more than in subsequent iterations, starting with O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing on the first page, and including Hark! the Herald Angels Sing and Christ, the Lord, is Risen Today, plus a whole bunch with which I am not familiar.

Do you re-read books? Which ones?

Not so much this century. I’ve read the Bible all the way through, different iterations, in 1977-78, sometime in the 1980s, and 1996-97, but not since. I used to reread Matt Groening’s Life in Hell books, certain books about the Beatles. Now, I feel there are SO many books that I OWN that I haven’t read the FIRST time that rereading seems like a luxury.

This may be true: the only books I’ve reread that I wasn’t going to review are children’s books: Dr. Seuss, Sue Boynton. And not necessarily for the Daughter’s consumption, but for my own.
New York Erratic muses:

Do you find different communication platforms cause you to think differently? For example, reading Facebook vs. talking a lot on the phone.

Here’s the difference between someone’s Facebook and someone’s blog: I’m more likely to read the latter. Of the 710 friends I have on Facebook, last I checked, there are fewer than ten for which I get notifications every time they post, and I’m related to most of them. So when they later say, “I wrote about that already on Facebook,” I shrug, because I didn’t probably see it. If I DID follow everyone closely, I’d have no life.

I HATE reading lengthy pieces on FB. This is probably a function of the font, which I’m told I can alter but haven’t had the inclination to figure it out. But it’s also true that I associate FB with short comments or links to other items. I tend not to link satire (except The Onion) on FB, because too many people think it’s true.

I much prefer email to texting because there’s less an expectation that I’ll reply instantly.

Here’s a bit of my library process: I’ve mentioned that I’m more likely than my fellow librarians, all of whom are at least a decade younger, to pick up the phone and call an agency, an association, etc. What I believe is that they all put up websites and seem to think that all the information that users will need is there. This is incorrect, as I’ve gotten plenty of useful info by actually finding, and speaking to, the right person. Sometimes, it’s just connecting our client with that appropriate contact that solves the issue.

The “national conversation”: guns, flags, race

Our “national discussion” is coming out of both sides of our collective mouth.

guns.AmericaTackling more Ask Roger Anything questions, where a theme seemed to emerge:

New York Erratic wants to know:

What is the #1 thing that annoys you on social media?

Mostly that so much of it is so banal. I post these blog posts to my Facebook and Twitter and get a few comments. I write, in response to an Esquire clickbait article, “If you think I’m going to click on this 80 times, you’re crazy;” it’s gotten over 120 likes, many of them in recent days.

Sometimes, though, it does some good. Which nicely segues to…
Jaquandor muses:

I often hear calls for “a national conversation” to deal with Big Issues. What would a “national conversation” look like?

Since we can’t seem to agree on simple concepts, such as facts about science, I think the “national conversations” bubble up in ways that I don’t think can possibly be entirely controlled.

The Ice Bucket challenge last summer was one of those events. WE decided, via social media, to triple the amount of money for research for a disease most of us had been either unaware of or wasn’t of interest.

The sudden rush to remove Confederate battle flags from Wal-Mart, Amazon, and other retailers in recent days clearly was a conversation WE had. That emblem was obviously not a significant issue to most folk the day before the Charleston shootings. But when those people died, and their loved ones showed such grace in mourning, WE decided, or most of us, that the “stars and bars” that the presumed killer embraced were suddenly toxic.

Now if you WANT to have a “national discussion,” such as the ones President Obama has periodically attempted to instigate about race, it’s usually a flop. “He’s a race baiter.” “Ooo, he used the N-word,” without any understanding of the context of what he was trying to express. “There’s just one race, the human race,” which is both true and irrelevant.

In this age of increasing partisan division, I am finding it harder and harder to even empathize with the “other side” (in my case, the political right in this country). I used to at least understand how they arrived at their worldview, if not share it, but now I increasingly can’t fathom how or why they would look at the world that way at all. Does this make sense to you, and if so, what can be done about it?

For me, this is less of a problem of left/right, and more an issue of “Do they really mean what they say, are they just trying to be provocateurs, or are they just intellectually lazy?”

I get the sense that some of them just SAY things because it’s sensational. Ann Coulter attacked Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) as “an immigrant” who “does not understand America’s history” because she changed her mind about having the Confederate battle flag on state grounds. Let’s ignore the fact that Nikki Haley was BORN IN SOUTH CAROLINA to immigrant parents. Facts need not get in the way of a convenient narrative.

My own defense mechanism is to declare that certain parties – Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Congressman Louis Gohmert (R-TX), and certain others – as unreliable reporters. I don’t mean “reporters” in a news sense, but that what they say, what they report, is, based on a great deal of observation, not worthy of my consideration.

This is actually useful because it minimizes my outrage. I don’t spew in anger ranting, “How can Hannity say such a stupid thing?” Instead, I can calmly note, “Oh, there’s Hannity saying something inane again. Ho-hum.” It’s SO much better for my blood pressure.

George Carlin said, over ten years ago on an album (closer to fifteen): “Wanna know what’s comin’ next? Guns in church! That’ll happen, you’ll see.” Nervous tittering laughter from the audience, and yet… here we are. How inevitable was this, and how do you see future historians looking back on our incredible resistance to the mere idea of giving up our guns?

Sure, Australia has a mass shooting in 1996, and the people decide to limit their guns. In 2012, 20 children and six adults were murdered at a school in Connecticut, and since then, nationally, there have been about as many laws expanding gun use as there have been restrictions. In other words, our “national discussion” is coming out of both sides of our collective mouth.

To be fair, history will also laugh at us for being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and yet:
has massive income inequality
is the only industrialized nation without paid maternity leave
is ranked only 12th in freedom
is 14th in education
*is a whopping 33rd in Internet download speed
plus relatively lousy scores in children’s health, and a bunch of issues about which we might consider having a “national discussion”, but can’t.

But we’re tops in gun deaths per capita AND in the number of prisoners. WE’RE #1! There’s some “national discussion” around the edges about the evil of mass incarceration; we’ll see where that goes.

At least the gun thing comes from an interpretation – a faulty one, I’d contend – of the US Constitution, backed, I’m afraid, by our Supreme Court.

After Charleston, I was watching a LOT of news. One security expert said churches, and other “soft targets,” need to have “situational awareness” when someone comes in who is a DLR, “doesn’t look right.” As someone who sits in the choir loft, I have seen a number of people walk through the church doors, who, some would suggest, “don’t look right,” but who have subsequently become members of the congregation.

Padlocking to keep “them” out is a formula to kill a religious body as sure as bombs or bullets would, just more slowly.

Moreover, I listened to two sisters of one of the murdered congregants of Mother Emanuel, and they talked about a fearlessness that comes from loving God. This is why, a week to the day after the shootings, they and over 250 others were present for the Wednesday Bible study.
SamuraiFrog interjected:

What is your opinion on the #WeWillShootBack hashtag that popped up on Twitter?

Thanks for pointing this out, because I was unaware of it. Not surprisingly, I’m generally opposed to it on both theological and strategic grounds. Nonviolent direct action as done by Gandhi and Martin Luther King was very effective, and shows the higher moral position; of course, both of them were eventually assassinated.

Did I mention that I LOVE Bree Newsome?

Sad but often true: when enough crap happens to black people, eventually a positive outcome is generated. Use fire hoses on black children, and white people get upset enough to want to do something about the situation.

The civil rights crusade has almost always needed white supporters, and they are welcome, although making sure white people are comfortable can be a drag.

Still, forgiving white supremacy can be a real burden. Mother Emanuel’s Bible study the week after the shootings was reportedly from the New Testament book of 1 Peter. I don’t know the verses they studied, but here are some representative verses from chapter 2, verses 19-21: “For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God… if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this, you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

I can imagine some black folks thinking, “To hell with THAT!” So I UNDERSTAND #WeWillShootBack. I don’t endorse it, but I know where it comes from.
Thomas McKinnon says:

With all that is going on in the news, have you talked to your daughter about racism?

Tom, it’s post-racial America. What’s to talk about?

Actually, The Daughter and I often watch the news together and discuss what it means. When she’s seen stories from Ferguson to Charleston, from Freddie Gray, who died in Baltimore in police custody, to Tamir Rice, who died about two seconds after the Cleveland police arrived. There’s fodder for a lot of conversation.

We both found the Donald Trump piñata story terribly funny. (Here’s a better picture.)

Current events have been a great point of entry, actually. I was loath to just dump on her some of the crap I had endured over the years. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I was thinking, maybe hoping, that we were getting there sooner than it’s turned out.
Arthur@AmeriNZ picks up on a theme from others:

Thinking of race relations in the USA, and maybe racial politics, who has surprised you the most?

Jon Stewart. I didn’t think, in his political analysis on The Daily Show, that race was particularly his thing. By his own admission, he was slow to hire correspondents of color. Larry Wilmore, who now has his own show, might get to pontificate occasionally from 2006-2014.

But Stewart started taking on the issue of race from his own voice. It may have started before this, but the pivotal program for me was the August 26, 2014 episode, where he first experiences the Ferguson Protest Challenge, then ends the Race/Off segment with, and I’m slightly paraphrasing here: “If you’re tired of hearing about racism, imagine how exhausting it is to be living with it.”

More recently, Stewart parodied the “Helper Whitey” effect… in a segment with Jessica Williams and Jordan Klepper. “First Williams [a black woman] would make a point, but Klepper [a white man] wouldn’t listen to her. When Stewart made the exact same point a few seconds later, Klepper jumped to agree.”

Who has disappointed you the most?

Bill Clinton, who got dubbed by someone as the “first black President,” for some reason, but who gutted the economic safety net, and continued the process of mass incarceration. Yeah, he did have a decent record overall on civil rights, but I guess I expected more.

Though the first person to really disappoint me was Jesse Jackson. He was running for President in 1984 when he used a slur against Jews in describing New York City, and that ended my support for him.

Circular question answering New York Erratic

Let me say that while Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful and all, there seems to be a lot of sense of obligation.

happinessrunsAnd in an act that defies logic, I am now answering questions that New York Erratic answered for me, even though I gave them to her, based on questions Lisa posted, and which Dustbury also answered… Oh never mind.

1. What is your dream vacation spot and why?

It would be a place by the water, preferably running water, like a river or waterfalls, because I love water; maybe it’s the Pisces in me. It would be neither too hot nor too cold. MaybeVictoria Falls, in September.

2. Where did you come up with the name of your blog?

There was a long-running radio talk show called Rambling with Gambling, from which I got the Ramblin’ part. The Roger part, I have no idea.

3. How do you define blogging success?

It really does vary. While I don’t especially care, when my Times Union blog is trending, or when Chuck Miller declares it one of the week’s 10 best, I enjoy that.

But the real success is that I find people with whom to have reasonable, usually rational, dialogue. Such as with New York Erratic.

4. What is your favorite type of “going out” entertainment?

I like going to the movies because I like seeing movies in the theater. Watching videos often creates the temptation to pause it and do something else. That’s OK with something I’ve seen before, but not the first time. That’s why I ultimately canceled Netflix; I had The Hurt Locker for four or five months, and never found two solid hours to watch it without The Daughter around, or being too tired, or too busy.

5. How many states (name them) have you lived in?

North Carolina (for four months). New York (the rest of my life.)

6. What is your favorite holiday and why?

Ash Wednesday. Let me say that while Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful and all, there seems to be a lot of sense of obligation. The beginning of Lent is a time of quiet reflection. When I was a kid, it was only the Catholics I knew that got the ashes on the forehead, but lots of Protestant churches, including the last two I’ve belong to, participate, and I think it’s an easy, but symbolic, way for religious rapprochement.

7. What’s your favorite number and why?

I really do like zero. It’s nothing, yet it’s massive in combination. It’s that dividing line between the positive and the negative. What’s not to like?

8. What would be your dream vehicle to own?

Some motorized bicycle that I’d turn on for hills, and pedal otherwise.

9. What is your favorite hobby?

I suppose it’s singing, though, until you brought it up, I never thought of singing as a hobby, but rather just WHAT I DO, WHO I AM. Or blogging.

10. How do you try and keep your blog fresh?

I change the blog filter every 3,000 miles. Cereally, I actually plotted out 2014, or parts of it. I decided on my ABC Wednesday topics for every week in Round 14, back in October; didn’t write them, of course, but knowing what I was going to write about gets the brain working. Then I found the half dozen people who turn 70 I want to write about. Then there are holidays and observances. And anything I find interesting I don’t have anything to write about, I link to at the end of the month. This leaves the rest of the time for movie reviews and life experiences. In other words, I throw the blog against the wall and see what sticks.

11. Where do you do your best thinking?

In the shower, or riding the stationary bike. Or when I first wake up, which is why I like to blog when I first wake up (and don’t particularly like to blog at night).

Apartments, landlords, jobs

It was an odd space in that, when you walked into the apartment on the first floor, you were in the kitchen. But I liked it.

keys-20120131New York Erratic, who needs to use her blog as therapy more often, wants to know:

Who was your worst landlord ever?

I’ve lived in over 30 apartments in my life, and most of the landlords I don’t much remember, one way or another. I suppose I can name the ones who I got miffed with:

The one on Ontario Street in Albany in the mid-1980s who did not take seriously the invasion of mice in the apartment, shortly after my girlfriend at the time and I moved in. This wasn’t a rodent or two; they were quite numerous. And aggressive. One found its way into our noodles that were on top of the refrigerator. I set traps and killed three or four every night for at least a week and a half, and one or two a night for another week or so, before the mice got the memo not to come inside anymore.

One place I liked on Lancaster Street in Albany, the landlord threw everyone out, including these nice old ladies who had lived there for about 30 years. He renovated it, and it is now a chichi place that recently got mentioned in the real estate section of the local paper.

Worst apartment you ever stayed in?

The worst apartment was probably the first apartment the Okie and I moved into in Kingston, NY after we were married. Not only was the pullout sofa terribly uncomfortable, we discovered that first night approximately a zillion cockroaches. I had never seen a roach before and was not savvy as to the telltale signs of their droppings. I believe we were there for eight weeks.

Although the first real apartment in Schenectady, after Uthaclena’s then-wife threw me out of theirs, was a real dump. I was there for three or four months.

Best apartment and landlord?

I really did like that basement apartment on Lancaster. It was narrow but deep; I think they called it a train apartment.

Aside from that, though, my favorite had to be Second Street in Albany in the late 1980s. It was an odd space in that, when you walked into the apartment on the first floor, you were in the kitchen. But I liked it. And it was the easiest place to move into because it had an enclosed back porch. This means I could put all my books and LPs on the porch, position the book cases and record stands, then put away said tomes and albums at my leisure. The landlord couple was really nice.

Also, I was really taken by the sunken living room at an apartment on Morris Street in Albany. Unfortunately, the landlord decided to move from wherever to that apartment, and we had to move upstairs. And WORST MOVE EVER, because we were slowly schlepping our stuff up the stairs and it seemed to take FOREVER. The landlord I do remember getting along with quite well, listening to Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson together.

Must admit I was also fond of an apartment complex in New Paltz called Colonial Arms. For mass housing, it was rather nice.

What was your favorite job ever?

At some level, it had to be my job with the Schenectady Arts Council from March 1978 to January 1979. I was hired, ostensibly, to do the bookkeeping. Straight off, though, the office staff was making phone calls to sell ads for a performance to benefit Proctors Theatre, the old, rundown vaudeville theater where our offices were located. Now it’s a jewel of downtown Schenectady.

Even got to sing at the benefit, in the arcade, with Susan, the secretary, and a couple of her friends. All the artists on staff were doing art in the schools and in the broader community, so Susan decided that she and I should go to nursing homes and sing, and we did.

Occasionally, the choreographer, Darlene, needed a dance partner when she went to the schools and she hookwinked asked me to accompany her.

I ran an Artisans’ Arcade fortnightly, which was fun, though a LOT of work.

Because the director, Paul, was more an artist type – he was an actor by trade – he hated dealing with the blue-haired ladies of Arts Council board, and he often left it to me or the program coordinator, Nancy, to deal with them. When he decided to go on vacation, even though we HAD no vacation, I was in charge in his absence.

I was very sad when the federal funding abruptly ran out.

I should note, however, that I learned a great deal working at FantaCo, the comic book store/mail order house/convention operator/publisher/distributor in Albany, and that has value to me.

What was the nicest group of people you’ve ever worked with?

It occurs to me that, because I was at FantaCo for 8.5 years, and the SBDC for 21.7 years, and counting, that for all sorts of reasons, the personalities changed quite a bit over time. So I’ll opt for the Arts Council staff. Not sure they were all nice; one of the sculptors was probably crazy, but I liked him. I was just looking at the staff photo a couple of weeks ago.

Library people, in general, are nice, but there was one library boss of three years I didn’t particularly get along with. And there was that two-year period when our whole organization was subsumed by this incompetent and evil external political beast, which, fortunately, had a very public takedown.

FantaCo was almost two different places before Mitch was fired/Raoul died in 1983, and afterward. I liked almost all of them, but it was very tough leaving, and I HAD to go because I was ODing on the horror film stuff, which wasn’t my thing.

I should note that one of the worst places I worked was Binghamton City Hall in the spring of 1975, when I dropped out of college. Part of my job was to empty the wastebaskets of the local cops, and they seemed to have disdain for the lowly janitor. The sole exception was the local captain, who engaged me in interesting conversation.

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