August 4, 2006
I will be visiting New York City next weekend. If anyone in the area wants to meet me, that would be a good time. Tentative plans are for a meetup Friday evening, August 4.
I’m not very familiar with NYC, so I would appreciate some suggestions for venues and times. I’m staying in Jersey City and probably taking the PATH back, so a downtown location would be highly preferable. Any time in the evening is okay, but we should settle on one soon.
Have at it in comments.
Update: Becks informs me via e-mail that I’m actually looking for a midtown location. I told you I wasn’t familiar with NYC.
Today is my dad’s birthday. He’s 59.
I have a lot of respect for my dad. He’s the only person I know who’s equally comfortable talking to professors and truck drivers. He’s very shy (like me), so it’s really more that he’s equally uncomfortable, but the point is that it’s equal. He’s like me in a lot of other ways, too; I’ve already mentioned that he’s more comfortable around women than men, but he also rarely cries and is afraid of birds. A lot of people seem to have difficult relationships with their fathers, but I’m not one of them. My father and I don’t talk much to each other, but that’s mostly just because neither of us talks much at all. Overall we get along quite well.
People who only like happy posts should probably not click through to the extended.
Coming home from work today, the bus driver almost didn’t stop for me because I was, in his words, “nowhere near the bus stop.” I was about 20 feet from the sign, which I interpreted as meaning I was well within the bus stop. Was I wrong, or was he? How big is a bus stop?
A White Bear is apparently the kind of woman who hangs out with guys and doesn’t get along well with other women, as is LizardBreath. I’ve heard this kind of thing a lot, and I can understand it on an intellectual level (and AWB’s post in particular gets at some connections to internalized misogyny that hadn’t really occurred to me before), but it’s so far removed from my own experience that I don’t really get it emotionally. I love women. All women. No matter how butch or femme or cringe-inducingly stereotypical. I just love them, love being around them, and feel much more comfortable interacting with them than with other men. I always feel awkward around men, as if I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do in social situations with them. Even with my close friends, there’s always a bit of tension in my manner; I’m never fully at ease. With women (at least the ones I know well) I can truly relax and be sociable to the extent that I’m able.
I’m not really sure where this comes from, but my dad’s the same way. Perhaps there’s some sort of genetic dimension, or maybe my dad’s upbringing shaped him in a way that he passed on to me through my upbringing. Or a mixture of the two.
One possible source is the predominantly female environment in which my dad and I both grew up. His mom had three sisters and no brothers, and the four of them were very close all their lives. They had between them seven children; my dad was the only son. He’s an only child as well, so his cousins were the main family he had growing up and he’s still quite close to them. His family overall was remarkably female-dominated for the time and place, and I’m sure this had a strong influence on the development of his personality.
While my upbringing was quite different, there are some parallels. I have a sister and no brothers, so there was no masculine influence in our household except my dad. We continued to keep close ties to my dad’s family while I was growing up (and do still), so I probably got a heavy dose of that dynamic. I always interpreted my mom’s family as being similarly matriarchal when I was young, but I know realize that it only seemed that way because the main patriarch-types (my grandfather and his brother) had died long before and the women had taken over. Still, it was mostly women that I encountered.
I don’t know how much influence this family stuff really had either on my dad or on me, but whatever the cause, I’m just much more comfortable around women.
So I’m going to reluctantly wade in to the Israel mess. BitchPhD has a good post about the issue of liberal reluctance to talk about Israel, linking to a very good Tony Judt column in Haaretz. I’m not so sure Judt’s right that public opinion in the US is shifting against Israel (NYU undergrads are not at all typical of Americans in general), but the rest is dead on.
One thing the column highlights is the unfortunate tendency, among Zionists as well as their enemies, to equate Israel with the Jewish people as a whole. In a way this identification is implicit in the whole Zionist project, but as Judt points out it is dangerous for Jews outside of Israel because it makes us reluctant to criticize anything Israel does for fear of being labeled “self-hating.” It also draws us into messes we didn’t seek and don’t want; when gentiles think that Judaism=Israel, suddenly all Jews are expected to be able to explain (and assumed to endorse) Israel’s actions, no matter how unjustified. This happens to me all the time, and I’m sick of it.
So, for the record: I do not support Israel’s actions in Lebanon, nor do I necessarily support any particular policy of this or any other Israeli government. I could go on, but I think this is enough for now.
I went to the laundromat today. Oprah was on, which is much better than the usual fare (although the local news afterwards was all about fallen trees). I didn’t watch much, though, because of the lack of air conditioning and all. Instead I moved my truck, then got some falafel, then came back to put my clothes in the dryer. While they were drying I did a little reading, but it was hard with the oppressive heat and the blaring TV (fallen trees! everywhere!), so I only got through a few pages.
There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have left my clothes at a laundromat while I went and did something else. When I was in high school I knew a guy who had his clothes stolen from a laundromat while he watched a movie (I was with him). And then there’s that scene in Fight Club. I know stuff like that doesn’t actually happen very often, but I’m not a very trusting person by nature, so I generally prefer to keep an eye on things.
That’s all changed, though, and I think it’s largely the result of living in a big city for a while. In a city, you have to trust people; there’s no getting around it. People are everywhere, and it would be easy for them to do you harm, but there’s nothing you can do to stop it. You can’t barricade yourself off the way you can in some fortress-like suburban developments (not that that really keeps you safe either). You have to adapt to the fact that people are everywhere and just relax a little. Sure, there’s a whole bunch of bad stuff they could do to you, but you could do the same stuff to them, so they generally don’t. It works surprisingly well.
Another example: I mentioned moving my truck. I don’t have a parking permit because I don’t live here permanently, so I can’t park in my neighborhood. I have to park in a different neighborhood where parking is unlimited (because the people are poorer). On past visits this used to worry me, so I would move my truck every couple days. Now, though, I’ve gotten used to the situation and I just move it when I have to (street cleaning, every two weeks). I’ve never had a serious problem; people just leave it alone. Some drunk threw an empty 40 bottle in the bed, but I don’t care about stuff like that.
I find it remarkable how much implicit trust is involved in urban living. I see people all the time. I can’t worry about what they’re going to do to me, because if I did I would never get anything done. I just trust them, and move along. Perhaps there’s a lesson there.
Just started. Thunder too. Maybe this will do something about the heat.
I like rain. Here it’s often just a sort of steady, irritating drizzle, but in the Southwest rain is a wonderful thing. It’s rare, especially in these days of superdrought, but when it comes, mostly during the “monsoon season” in July and August, it comes hard. Powerful thunderstorms with big, fat drops. The storms don’t last long, but they’re quite impressive.
Just before it starts to rain, you can smell it in the air. It’s a beautiful smell, like carefully moistened dust (which, I suppose, is exactly what it is). You smell that and you know it’s going to rain, and then the drops start to come down and for that brief period it seems like the temperature will fall and the rivers will fill and everything will be all right. And during the storm, all those things are true.
I was talking to my sister recently, and she mentioned that since she’s come east for school she no longer likes rain. It doesn’t have that same smell, and instead of crisp, refreshing summer storms you just get days and days of sloppy drizzle. She’s right, but I still like rain. I guess the affection I developed when I was younger is strong enough to withstand all the unpleasant rain the east coast can throw at me.
It’s supposed to rain for the next few days. I don’t mind.