Seen / Déjà vu CF

These are the Compassion Fatigue entries. I thought I'd group them, being the orginizational freak that I am... sometimes. I was never a librarian, but have lusted after many.


I'll title these entries and add to the bottom as I go...


E-mail from Jesus



Prolific Missionaries

Spring Is Here


Asshole by Choice

Compassion Fatigue

You may gave guessed that 'Compassion Fatigue Entries' is a euphamism for the bitch corner. Perceptive of you.

Color me disturbed. I try to keep an open mind (I'm working on being a saint and all...) but, I got link lost in a bad neighborhood last night.

I was researching a topic and found a terrifically well written and researched article that was all kinds of helpful. There were some passages in it that didn't make any sense to me, but I was scanning for particular info, so I didn't pay it a whole lot of mind. And then I came across a phrase - one I'd seen before - give or take a word, it had the same connotation. I had surfed to the page from a search engine. I scanned the article a bit more (long article) and the hairs at the back of my neck began to prickle.

I followed the address backward to the next level and was met with a list of articles. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. I got a bit queasy. Here I was, looking up information on girl's schools in the early 1900's and I'd stumbled onto something that I didn't even knew existed. I didn't want to know it existed. What is up with adults preying on children sexually and thinking that it's somehow acceptible? This website I had stumbled upon presents the issue as, "Hey, we're just misunderstood like you." Well, nuh-huh, sisters, you ain't.

I'm going to go take a shower now.

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What on earth am I gonna do now? I've been sent an e-mail chain letter from Jesus. This is a tricky happenstance for a couple of reasons. First: I don't know overly much about Jesus (sure there's that whole son of god thing), but from what I can recollect, he never struck me as the chain letter type of guy. Second: my sister did the actual sending.

As usual, I've exaggerated a wee bit... the note isn't from Jesus per se. But on the bottom it does recommend that I send this holy digital note on to others, especially ones I don't like, because it's the kind of thing that Jesus would do. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think he was supposed to be a spiteful man.

I have several sisters, I haven't mentioned this one yet. This one's got religion. I don't usually mind, unless she tries to share it. I'm way too overeducated, anti-patriarchal, post-modernist jaded New England to be flirting with the Holy Trinity in my down time.

So I'm sitting here with this thing that's kinda like a familial bomb in my 'In' box. I've never been adept at handling this sort of situation - the kind that requires tact. I thought I could forward her a list of cool bumperstickes for women as a reply. I could underscore the one that says, "GOD MADE US SISTERS, PROZAC MADE US FRIENDS." But I doubt she'd find it as funny as I do.

That's a real shame too, because she's actually the funniest person in our family - when she's not got the holy hat on.

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Today I would like to bitch about in-laws. Or not-in-laws as gays cannot marry and therefore have no in-laws. My biggest gripe in that department is that while we cannot suffer the trials of legal marriage, we still have to deal with all the baggage. Which brings me to my favorite not-in-law to bitch about...

Whoa there little lady!

If you've been to this page before you're likely to note that I chopped a good deal of this entry out. Call it compassion in retrospect. Call it - "Gee, can I be a bitch or what? And why do I think people need to hear that crap?" But then again, I can only imagine the personality that wants to peruse the CFE page anyway. Maybe you thrive on this brand of tension. Maybe I've done a disservice by censoring my nastier edges off the net.

Nah, there's plenty of nasty out there for ya. And there's some in here too. Only, I feel more comfortable about it when it's a little more abstract.

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I wonder how many women of power complain about their periods? Can you picture Margret Thatcher gripping a bottle of ibuprophen and cursing out the House of Lords? Or Bella Abzug holding her hands over her abdomen in a half crouch as she manuoevered her way through New York State politics?

Joan of Arc? Cleopatra? Eleanor of Aquitaine?

Not all women have bad cramps. That's the good news. Mine suck. That's the bad news because I've been telling people about 'em for years and I'm sure they wish I'd stop. Don't you?

Discussing bodily functions was strictly verbotten in my family. If my parents could have managed it, we wouldn't have had bodies to discuss. My father once claimed that he didn't even know women had periods until I came along. This would have been funny if I didn't suspect that it was true.

I have several sisters, all older, who I've been told have periods as well. For some reason, no one handed me the family decree of silence when I got mine, so when my cramps showed up I started bitching. Okay, I probably started bitching before that, but I'm trying to tell a story here. Anyway, all of my sisters were sworn to silence, hiding this dark family secret from the males of our home.

In an effort to be fair to the males of our home, they had dark secrets of their own that they too were not supposed to share. And I'm sure it bent their little psyches into a pretzel.

Now that I'm done being sensitive to the males, let me continue with my story of patriarchal censorship and self-imposed shame. Okay, so I was sixteen or something and I walked downstairs complaining about my cramps. I was probably complaining because my cramps had the crappiest timing on the planet. Every year I'd get them during soccer tryouts. Every time I tried out for a team, I felt like shit. Which was probably why I played so aggressively and made the team - not that I ever played on particularly challenging teams. Except the one year I decided to play on the team in high school which just happened to be all boys. Level of play wasn't the challenge there, dealing with the two sexist coaches was. Oh, have I digressed?

So I was on the stairs complaining about my period and my father looks up at me and delivers his comment about not knowing about periods until I came along. I was at a particular point in my feminist development then and his comment caused me to puff up with pride. I told him that I was glad that I could enlighten him. I could tell then that feminism was for me. I could also tell that it wasn't for him.

My parents had had a mess of children and somehow they'd made it through the seventies without one of us getting funny ideas about feminism and such. But there I was, standing on the stairs in the nineteen eightees - when the threat should have been well over - showing strong tendancies. Out loud.

My mother decided that if I were going to be so bold about my bodily functions, in front of males no less, she was going to teach me a lesson. She started making me go out and buy the "monthly supplies". I was horrified. Ever since the first day I got my period, the supplies had magically appeared in the bathroom closet.

But I was a feminist damn it. So I made my way over to the local drug store and in a total nervous sweat, purchased my very first box of pads (they used to come in boxes). I was so proud I nearly burst after I calmed down from being nervous.

You see, as much as I hate it, their sorry-assed Victorianesque programming wasn't entirely wasted on me. A healthy dose of that self-loathing crap sunk in. But I made sure they paid for that whenever I could, don't you worry. I remember the day I came out to my mother as a feminist, her response was, "You are not!" I took a note from that exchange and decided that telling her about my gender preference ought to wait. 'Til like, I was thirty and lived in another country.

My mother was a formidable woman. She'd have made Xena think twice about that dragging Gabrielle behind the horse thing I can tell you that much. I could hear her cursing out the Warrior Princess now, "What exactly do you think you're doing with that young woman tied behind your horse? What will the neighbors think? You get down here right this minute and let her go. I don't want to hear any lip and you put that sword right back in that scabbord unless you want to feel something that will really make you think twice. And don't slouch, it makes you look like a lesbian!"

She wouldn't have been any easier on Gabrielle though. "And you! What is that you're wearing? I don't care about Amazon purification rituals, you put some clothes on young lady. Decent women don't dress like that. And those muscles! How do you ever expect to attract a man if he thinks you're trying to compete with him? Take my advice and soften up. A man doesn't want to think that a woman's going to challenge him."

Three guesses to what part of the country my mother was from. Yup, she even had the accent forty years after emigrating north.

From all of the stuff my mother told me about what men do and don't like in a woman, I decided that being a lesbian was easier. After hearing it over and over as I grew up it dawned on me that women were trained from birth to put up with all kinds of crap. Yep, women sounded like the right choice for me. I require a lot of putting up with.

Anyway... my father, having learned about periods and that I had one, decided that I was a woman. That had some complicated ramifications in our relationship. I went from being this odd asexual creature to being a daughter. Being a daughter meant that I was a possession, not a person. I made it pretty clear to him that I didn't like the new arrangement. It was something I had survived into my teens without and was happy to keep on doing so. I hate that sexist father/daughter stuff.

I began to notice other stuff in my family about the male/female dynamic. You can guess that I became a pretty obnoxious critic in my later teens. My mother hadn't a clue what to do with me. My father went back to treating me like an asexual oddity. We got along better that way. We still do. Only he's figured out the oddity part and it turned out that I wasn't asexual.

As luck would have it... my father just called (I kid you not - as I was typing). This was one of those opportunities that was too good to pass up, so when he asked how I was I said that I was doing alright, but I had miserable cramps. His response was, "Notwithstanding all of that female shit, I wanted to talk to you about your sister."


My sister... a whole 'nother story.

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Okay, I know I write too much and you all probably know all of the stuff that's out there on the internet and I'm just finding it all belatedly because I'm slow and overly distracted by websites that have more to do with a couple of kick ass action heroines who have a tendancy to get kinda wrapped up in their own drama and indiscipherable relationship, but there was a point to me starting this and mainly it was to tell you about a couple of sites I got lost in.

The poke the bruise meter went way up in a couple of these sites... But the first one is fascinating in its own right. It's called Open Letter:

I think it's a cool site. In the first letter they published I found a link to a diary site. I'm intrigued by this notion, so I investigated. My main motivation was to see if the woman who wrote the letter that I'd read at the Open Letters site would have a different , more interesting voice/perspective than another young woman's site I'd read (remember that Dorothy Parker site I linked to a while back? - anyway...). I was amazed at what someone would upload to the internet. Full name, photos, addresses... do these people live in the same world I do? I began to have my doubts...

I came across one site that made my head spin. A young woman has a site that looks like a Gap ad and she writes like a missionary lost in the early 21st century. I had no idea that people like that still existed, much less were heavy into HTML and corporatr design chic. There's something so real, yet plastic about the whole thing. Here is this earnest, god loving, young woman, presenting her inner thoughts and feelings in a venue that smacks entirely of too much corporate sterility (killer design though). And it's weirded still that I'm critiquing it...

Check out this link if you're interested. This woman has some good links at the bottom of her home page - oh, she's not the missionary, but the woman who wrote the letter on the Open Letter site:

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Spring is a tough time for me in my neighborhood. It's when we open the windows.

I can hear you from here, you're saying, "Come on, don't be such a grump Brulee. Let the fresh air in." And I'd stop (like after my dying breath), but I have to tell you that it's not easy opening the windows in my neighborhood. Not for an introverted little curmugeon like myself.

Take this afternoon for example, everytime I go into the kitchen, I have to listen to the lady next door cursing her husband out. From previous experience, I can tell you that this can go on for hours on end. Occassionally, like at two or three in the morning when she's doing it in the parking lot, we'll yell out the window, but it's barely effective (she'll stop, but then start up inside - which is fine when they are running their air conditioning - which is most of the time once it gets over 80 F - but otherwise we can hear her just fine ). And man, it's almost call the cops time when her sister comes over because I swear one of those women is going to die. Luckily, the one who lives next door doesn't let her sister in and they go at it - one from a window, the other from the asphalt below.

And I can never understand a friggin' word they're saying because it's in a language I don't know - damned inconsiderate.

At least so far it's all been yelling and not physical. I'm thinking it's an ethnic thing because almost all of my neighborhood transacts it's daily business at the top of their lungs... I don't know, it could be a class thing too. Do you mind if I explore such sensative territory? I've tried to avoid overly prickly stuff. Mostly to create an environment that's easygoing-esque. You know, like corporate commercials - all look, no content.

In the meantime, I'll open my windows, yell out of them on occassion (as my mother turns in her grave), and generally get on with my life.

P.S. A day later... I woke this morning to the sound of a truck trying to park between Ume and me. That's what it sounded like. And I can tell you honestly that that's not my preferred manner of waking up, of a weekend.

Yee haw, it's chilly! I closed my windows again. I know, I know, I'm hopeless. But I got tired of listening to the symphony of tv sets drifting into my sesitive ears and keeping me awake. Oh, and the new guys next door speak a very loud version of Arabic or possibly Italian. As their windows face ours, I figure I'll be picking up some new vocabulary either way this summer. Sigh.

My neighborhood is a curious place. It's a 'diverse' environment. An inbetween kind of address. We've got all manner of people and stuffs crammed in here. Makes for an interesting, if sometimes irritating place to live.

Take yesterday for example... I was just going along, doing my thing, when the shouting started. As I've said, loud voices are the norm around here, so you may think that shouting isn't all that irregular. It's not. But when it comes from the house or yard diagonally across the street - your ears prick up.

If there is a house on the block that's likely to produce one of those tragic stories on the six o'clock news. This is it. Before I'd moved here, I'd not lived near folks like this - folks who are so deeply steeped in their own problems that they don't seem to notice when it spills out into the street and everyone else becomes witness to it. Whether we want to or not.

There will be quiet for weeks, sometimes months on end. And then, like yesterday, an explosion. They usually begin with yelling. After the shouting match, the major loser of a son (who fancies himself a player of some kind), went screeching out of the neighborhood in his jalopy. A few blocks away, he hit something. Couldn't help but hear that... And then he came screeching back around the block to prove he wasn't dead, I guess.

Lack of intelligence behind the wheel of a car like that ought to be illigal. There are a lot of kids in our neighborhood. Maybe one of them should lend him a scooter or something.

After the last fight like this, we were treated to the spectacle of a glass shower. 'Junior', as I've dubbed him, smashed out all of the windows of his mother's car.

Now that you're privy to this information, how old would you guess Junior is? Sixteen, eighteen? Guess again, he's in his late twenties, early thirties.

The police are no stangers to the house. They're no strangers period. They're all local folks who went to high school together. I sympathize with the police in this problem, it's no picnic to pull up to that house. And because they do half of their interventions on the front steps, I get to hear all about rehab progress and who's fallen off the crack wagon and all manner of details I could live without, but can't avoid unless I leave my apartment and neighborhood because it's usually that loud.

Yesterday's explosion was brought on by a parking ticket...

Not to give you all the wrong impression - my neighborhood has it's positive moments as well. When I'm in the mood to share, I'll tell you about some of our more palatable cohabitants.

Perhaps I'll tell you about the quiet lady next door. She's kind of interesting, but mostly because she's so mysterious. The most I can really tell you about her is that she has the unusual habit of parking her car WAY too close to your rear bumper. What can that tell you about somebody?

Then, there was the guy I ran into last night drawing beneath a tree. In the dark.

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What is up with my neighborhood this week? It's like someone flipped the luny switch. Or the asshole switch. I'm not sure which, but it's bad.

I'd had a nice evening (in someone else's neighborhood). On my walk home it was dark, but I was under a streetlight so I wasn't lurking in the shadows. This car drives by and something flies out of the window at me. It was a lit cigarette - came within five inches of me. The car (an SUV, what else?) sped on and I was once again left to wonder if the latest asshole to cross my path was an asshole by choice or by nature.

So how am I going to get back into the spirit of good neighborly feeling? I don't have a clue and I probably shouldn't try to figure it out tonight because the two new guys in the apartment next door seem to have multiplied and added alcohol and therefore volume and I'm probably going to have some trouble getting to sleep. Maybe I should consider moving...

I want to note that I used to love my neighborhood. We once had this little girl who lived in the building next door (in the apartment where the guys are multiplying), she was great. Our bedroom windows face a couple of the windows over there (20ft across, but it looks like 6ft.). This little girl used to hang out of one of them and seranade us. It was possibly the sweetest thing ever. Once in a while Ume or I would look out the window and she'd give us the cutest little smile.

Things like that have happened here. I've known some pretty right on people here. That little girl, chief among them. But lately...

P.S. How's this for neighborly? The car that the cigarette flew out of just happens to belong to one of my neighbors from across the street. Great! I guess I should go over there and bust some ass. "But wait!" you say, "Isn't that the same house where the police broke up the knife fight last summer? The one that 12 (count 'em, 12) police cars showed up to with the ambulance? The house with the mysterious comings and goings?" Yeah, so what? What's your point?

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I am suffering from a common modern ailment. Compassion Fatigue.

I heard about it on the radio and I said - hey, I know about that! I think I caught it in my neighborhood.

Listen to me, would ya? The woman whose neighbor helped her dig her car out of ten feet... okay, five feet... maybe two feet of snow this winter. So what if I'd already dug most of it out and didn't really want his help, but he did it. That was nice. Of course, he was hitting on me too. But hey, he's a healthy male, that's normal behavior, right?

If I moved I'd miss the guy on the first floor whose from Kentucky and sits out on the front stoop in his plaid flannel shirt and jeans smoking his evening cigarette and drinking a beer. He's studying to be a minister. Oh, that's right, he's moving...

But there's still the lady who looks like a mole woman who's an opera singer. She's like the femme fatale of mole women too because she has more traffic coming and going from her apartment than Grand Central station. And I don't think money's involved. I'd miss her, she sings pretty good in the shower.

And around the block there's a sax player. I hear him sometimes, that's cool.

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Déjà vu - April

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