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The Corporatorium: I Am Prometheus (Episode One)

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I am Prometheus. Prometheus. Say it slowly, roll the letters around in your mouth. Prometheus. It is not my real name but it is name most fitting for me. Prometheus, the creator of mankind and its greatest benefactor, chained to a rock, his liver eaten daily by an eagle, in eternal damnation for stealing fire and gifting it to mankind. Yes, there are definite similarities between us.
I am Prometheus, and this is my story. Except it’s not my story. I wish it was, but I am not unique or special. This is the story of untold millions of hapless chaps and chicklets caught up in the grinding gears of the corporate machine.
This is a faux memoir told episodically. You will be inclined, at times, to laugh at us, and cry for us. Do not hold back either impulse. That is the point of sharing this story—to remind us that life is nothing but a series of small comedies and tragedies. What is important is what we take away from each occurrence, what we learn from each calamity and joy.
What will be…

Peeing With the Girls: A Bathroom Saga

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The mystery surrounding bathrooms have always been, well, a mystery to me.
When we were kids, our mother had a friend who had a daughter who was around the same age as my younger brother and me. When they came over, the three of us kids would head off to our bedroom to play. One day in the middle of playing my brother said he had to go to the bathroom, so Michelle and I went with him. He sat on the toilet and Michelle and I perched on the edge of the tub. Vernon cracked a joke and Michelle leapt to her feet and laughing nudged his shoulder—a bit too hard. My brother who was, at the time, extremely thin, fell bottom down into the toilet. Unable to free him, we called for our mothers. Once they had extricated him, Michelle’s mother looked at Michelle and asked her what she had been doing in the bathroom anyway.
“We were playing,” I explained reasonably, “and Vernon had to go to the bathroom, so we came with him.” I remember Michelle’s mother repeating she shouldn’t have been in the bath…

Toby & Larry: An Unconditional Love Story

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Even now, after all is said and done, after thirteen years together, after he is gone, I find it hard to explain Toby and me.
December 10, 2005. Princeton, New Jersey: The first time ever I saw his face.
There was snow on the ground. The air was frigid and dense with the hope of finding “the one,” and at the same time like a vacuum of held breath. Above the chaos, a leaden sky sagged, gray and heavy with inarticulate hope.
“Is that Toby?” I asked a woman walking by. “It is,” she said. He was as handsome as he was in his pictures online; I leaned down, breathless, and he, unexpectedly, jumped into my arms, landing on my chest. Our hearts collided, seemed to stop for a moment and continued to beat in synchrony; his next exhaled breath matched mine exactly. The next breath, drawn in surprise, also in synch.
We were Toby’s fourth home in less than two years. I spoke to his original owner once, just briefly. He explained that Toby had behavioral problems, which had prompted him to give Toby …

Ode to Words (Part 3): Silence

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My father taught me the value of silence. It was from him that I learned it takes more strength to hold your tongue than to loose it. Daddy was always the quiet one in our house. My mother’s voice was the dominant, reasoning soundtrack. My brothers’ voices were like murmurs on the wind .I was the noisy, unruly, talkative one. I was “like a clapper bell from hell,” my quiet father insisted.
I spent my adolescence resenting my father’s silence, my twenties and thirties trying to understand it, only to discover in my forties that daddy wasn’t intentionally silent: he only spoke the words that needed to be spoken. By the time I entered my 50s, he ended nearly every phone call with “I love you.” He used his words sparingly, saying only what needed to be said. If he told me over and over that he loved me it was because he knew I needed to hear he loved me.
For me, noisy kid that I was, my father’s silence was particularly jarring when set against my mother’s loquaciousness. Her words like foo…

Ode to Words (Part 2): Word Soup

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As I mentioned in Ode to Words (Part 1): One Line Wednesday, I recently attended a workshop on racial and gender equity. While there, and as part of the workshop, I was exposed to words that were mostly unfamiliar to me:
systemic oppression…equity-focused…gender justice lens…power imbalances…patriarchy…unpacking white privilege…micro aggressions…gender policing…monosexism…tokenism…White Fragility…intersectionality…
As I listened, perplexed, and watched others around me nodding and murmuring understanding, I felt oddly…isolated.
Have you ever played that game with yourself where you repeat a common, known, word over-and-over until it loses all meaning, all sense? Words are funny things, aren’t they? They can be powerful and meaningful—listen to any Barack Obama speech—or absurd—read any of DonaldTrump’s tweets, or heck listen to him speak extemporaneously.
systemic oppression…equity-focused…gender justice lens…power imbalances…patriarchy…unpacking white privilege…micro aggressions…gender…

Ode to Words (Part 1): One Line Wednesday

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Words, you see, are the thing.
As part of a workshop on racial and gender equity, we were divided into teams; each team was given a set of words and tasked with matching them with a set of definitions we were also given. I was unfamiliar with many of the words. One I hadn’t seen before but instantly understood was “fatphobia.” During the latter part of the exercise, each team had to share its words and definitions. Two people in the room objected to the word “fat.” They unpacked all the memories of hurt the word brought back to them. One detailed the trailing prejudice and assumptions about her health the word provoked. One of the facilitators explained that some people embrace the word as a way to rob it of its power to hurt, in much the same way some gay people have embraced the word "queer." There was mixed reaction to that. 

After the conversation went on for a while, I offered the opinion that words were just words; in and of themselves, they are harmless. They only have …

Moving On

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I haven’t been able to write.
If you’re not a writer, that probably sounds melodramatic. If you’re a writer, you probably d understand how upsetting it is to write those words, to be unable to write.
Like a lot of writers, I would imagine, I sometimes go long stretches without writing, because I don’t have anything to say. This dry period feels different though. I want to write, know what I want to say but somehow the words aren’t coming. Work on my next book stalled after the first paragraph. I tried to be patient, gentle with myself, solicitous of my fragile talent. I’m just tired, I told myself. There’s been a lot going on, I reminded myself: our dad died, I started a new job, there were the holidays…

I dreamt of Daddy the other night. I was walking through a crowded train station, carrying a heavy box in my hands, close to my chest. I have no idea what was in the box, but it was heavy. Everything was in black and white; the hard, white light falling from the skylight above made every…

In a Season of Excess

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I am troubled by the times we are living in. We have a Trump-driven, GOP-supported tax “reform” bill that is nothing short of a massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle-class, who comprise 99 percent of the U.S. population to the richest one percent. Over the weekend it was revealed Senator Bob Corker changed his “no” vote to a “yes,” after a tax break that would hand him a windfall of millions was snuck into the bill.
As I ponder the current climate, a season of excess, a world where greed is its own reward, and robbing the poor and middle class to enrich the already wealthy drapes the robbers in gilt-edged robes of glory, I am deeply disappointed. And afraid.
Sure we’ve seen this before, most recently in the Reagan area (who can forget Nancy Reagan wearing red and ordering 4,370 pieces of Lenox china (enough place settings of 19 pieces for 220 people) at a cost of more than $210,000? Who can forget the halcyon days of “Dynasty” and the Carringtons, and “Dallas” and JR Ewing…