Category: Life in the Hub of the Universe


Wow, the cobwebs around this place are terrible, aren’t they?

So a lot has happened since my last post- I graduated, passed the bar exam, I’m in job search hell, and oh, right, someone tried to blow up the Boston Marathon and then the whole city and surrounding suburbs went into high alert for a day looking for him.

What has ALSO happened is a bunch of people who don’t live here, who weren’t here, who didn’t live through this past week with us have decided that they get to explain to us what our experience was. That were under martial law, that we’re sheeple who will cower in our homes just because the government told us to, that no one needs a gulag, because we’ll look ourselves up.

Fuck you.

What happened was this: not long after midnight on Friday morning, police in Watertown (a suburb bordering Cambridge, Newton, and Boston) engaged in a running gun battle with what they were pretty sure were the bombing suspects. Grenades and IEDs were thrown. I heard the explosions of those bombs from my house in Medford, about 4 miles away as the crow flies. My roommate and I stayed up until nearly 2 am watching the news. I went to bed, because I had to be at work in the morning and figured that it would all be over by then. She stayed up until nearly 5:30.

When I woke up, I checked my email, which included a note from Inman Oasis (in Inman Square) that they were closed “until the Red line started running again.” I got up, and Twitter said the enitre MBTA system was shut down, and the governor and mayors of Watertown, Cambridge, Newton, Brookline, and Boston had asked everyone to “shelter in place.”

Please note the action verb there. “Asked.” Not “ordered.” Asked. They requested our cooperation so they could do thier jobs, find Suspect #2, and not get anyone else hurt in the process. They asked, and we all said, okay. Yes, it was creepy to see the pictures, but look at it this way: we had two blizzards and a hurricane that shut down Boston much the same way (with less explosions) in the past six months. We survived. the local economy survived.

My particular job was under a “no one in or out” lockdown for most of the day, but that didn’t affect me, since I couldn’t get there anyway. For the people who were stuck there, the institute made sure there was food and information available, and did it’s best to keep everyone as calm as possible. Luckily for me, I got paid for the day, and I know that there are people who were not so lucky.

(For anyone who claims that “children were kept from their education for the day,” that’s a load of crap. It was school vacation week in Boston and a number of surrounding communities. No one was supposed to be in school that day anyway.)

And everyone pulled together to make this bearable. People lvietweeted the press conferences for anyone who couldn’t watch. Boston university delivered food to students stuck in their dorms. A Brookline officers brought milk to a family that was out. They asked, we waited (I admit that my cabin fever and stir crazy was pretty bad by the end, and we weren’t under the Shelter in place request).

Bostonians are a cranky lot. We don’t respond to orders too well. We do, however, respond to reasonable requests as long as we understand why it’s being made and how what we have been asked to do will be useful. As a friend, Siderea, said in her Livejournal:

As a therapist, I’m pretty attuned to how people say things. I couldn’t help but notice something in how authorities addressed the public in all those press conferences over last night and into this morning. The news was wrong: never did the police or the governor or anyone order communities to shelter in place. Always, always, when speaking into microphones, it was expressed as a request. “We request that people stay home. We are asking that businesses not open.”

Sentences we did not hear: “Citizens are ordered to remain in their homes.” “All people are to remain in their homes.” “Martial law has been declared.”

No, instead: “we are asking.”

And so, we did. Massively, as one, with unanimity I have never seen.

It’s like they know us: we haven’t got an obedient bone in our bodies, but we cooperate like champs. Order us and we won’t, ask us and we will.

Nor did they attempt to frighten us into compliance, even while making it clear the situation was dangerous. No “it is unsafe to go out”, no “for your own safety”, no “you may be shot”.

And this remarkable sentence, “If you see people waiting at bus stops or train stations, please tell them the bus or train isn’t coming, and to go home. The MBTA doesn’t want people congregating at stations.”

“The MBTA doesn’t want.” Okay. Wow. What an incredible formulation. Fair enough.

Not the exercise of power, but the enlistment of a people, the rousing of a whole society to a collective good — in the dark and chaos and uncertainy in the small hours before dawn.

And you know what? In the entire operation to get the suspects, not one civilian was injured. NOT ONE. Well, a boat was pretty fucked up, but not one injury. LAPD can’t say that.

We weren’t under martial law. There were no jackbooted thugs. Law enforcement made a request and we all cooperated and in doing so, we caught him.

Boston Strong.

I had my last final yesterday, and now I am halfway done with law school.

Thank god, because, this seriously, was a kind of horrible semester. (I’m also at the psychotically hormonal stage of PMS, so… there’s that. Fair warning, and all.)

First, I had knee surgery a week before classes started. I spent the first month pretty much stoned on vicodin, and the rest of the time trying to catch up. As a rule I do not suggest this. (I also wrote two papers for my summer classes while high off my ass. It was a little awesome.)

I also lost my job at unnamed large bookstore because I dared to need time off to heal from some surgeon sticking crap in my knee and fucking around to make to work better. That sucked. A lot.

I spent an unreasonable amount of time at physical therapy.

I was not able to go to taekwondo ALL SEMESTER which is horrible, because the stress relief is the best thing ever.

My classes were, by and large, annoying. For those of you following me on Twitter, you saw some of the temper tantrums about adminstrative law, which was THE WORST THING EVER, or an annoying topic in legal writing. I never bitched about Wills Estates and Trusts because… well, there was nothing to bitch about, but it was SO DULL. Evidence was fun, and Wrongful COnvictions was fun, but both were SO. MUCH. WORK. Wrongful Convictions was a 2 credit class and usually had about 150 pages of reading, and the final paper was 20 pages, end notes, and… well I got more and more crazy as I was trying to finish the damn thing and we got to the point that I’d quoted both World War Z and Babylon 5, and said that prosecutors fucking up was why we couldn’t have nice things.

AND THAT WAS ME RESTRAINING MYSELF.

I did miss having the entire section together.

So it was a lot of work, and after coming from a graduate program which was All Crime, All the Time, and thus All Things I Gave a Shit About, having all the things that I didn’t give a shit about is hard. Next semester will be better- it’s Almost All Crime, All the Time.

So we got to the point where there’s finals to study for and I was kind of frantic, and stressed out, and not having much of my regular outlets for stress relief and some interpersonal shit that kind of boiled over right at the end just made everything worse.

However, it was not all bad.

I have been writing romance novel reviews for Smart Bitches who love Trashy Books, and people seem to like them. (Yup, I love romance novels. It’s true.)

I really did love Evidence, for all my bitching about hearsay.

My knee is doing very well, for all my bitching about that.

I discovered that if I take an antihistamine, I can drink beer. This is a new development and very welcome.

So there’s that. The semester is over, and I, for one, am very glad.

My roommate made an appeal to the Twitterverse for happy things after a day of RAAAAAAAAGE.

Someone sent her this (watch it with sound, there’s a song):

So we’ve spent the past thirty minutes occasionally breaking into choruses of “BABY MONKEY! BABY MONKEY! RIDING ON PIIIIG BABY MONKEY!”

Then she said, “This is so awesome, it should be ILLEGAL.”

I said, “no.”

“No?”

“NO.” The the part of me that has an admin law final in TWELVE HOURS said, “The notice and comment period at the FDA? That would be fucking INSANE. Because baby monkey. and there could be no coherent rule promulgated about that.”

There was a pause, and then she said, “You’re annoying.”

“You love me.” (and she does. I saved Christmas last weekend. And I feed her duck soup sometimes.)

“Those are not mutually exclusive things.”

Life with a law student in the throes of finals crazy.

(She is now trying to find something to mash up the Baby Monkey song with.)

As you may have guessed from my last post, I am deeply upset about the seeming epidemic of kids who have committed suicide due to homophobic bullying. And like many people within the blogosphere, I have also been the victim of bullying, and I know how bad it was for me (horrific, actually) and I can only imagine how it was for these kids.

I live in Boston, Massachusetts. I have since 2003. Since 2003, I have been listing to KISS 108 as my morning wake up radio station. I’m a very shallow girl in some ways, especially musically. I love canned pop. There’s plenty of it that makes me uncomfortable (anything that’s really heavy on the misogyny, for one thing), but mostly, I love it, so Top 40 is good for me.

(also I am a slow-waker, and tend to incorporate what I’m listening to in my early morning “I don’t wanna wake up” dreams. And if I listened to NPR like a goddamn adult, well. I can only imagine what those dreams would be like. Ugh. No, thank you.)

On KISS 108, the morning show is Matty in the Morning. They are much like my beloved Dave Ryan Morning Show in Minneapolis, but not as awesome. I’ll get into why in a second, but not long after I moved to Boston, I was feeling homesick and sent a somewhat pathetic email to Dave Ryan saying I missed his show. He sent one back, and some years later I was at the Minnesota State Fair (MINIDONUTS OMG), and he was at the KDWB booth, I introduced myself and he remembered my email and gave me a hug. It was nice.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to Matty in the Morning for seven years now. The humor has always been dancing on the edge of offensive, with some liberal fart jokes mixed in. (I love me some fart jokes. I admit it.) They also mock one of the co-hosts for “acting gay,” which makes me uncomfortable, and for being a famewhore, which does not make me uncomfortable. There’s always been a sense of the crowd being the cool kids in high school who never really got over themselves.

But over the past year, there’s been a drift from “offensive” to “hateful.” The best example I can give you is they have a sound cue of Susan Boyle beginning to sing “I Dreamed a Dream” with the beeping sound of a large truck backing up. And that’s…. just so wrong on so many levels. What that says to me is “How dare this woman who is not conventionally attractive and is not politely thin come out in public and be fat and ugly at us! She should stay home with her cats where she belongs.” The cracks about Billy’s possible orientation have gotten coarser, the fat jokes have become more thick on the ground, and it’s now just…. hateful.

Someone else mentioned on Livejournal how awful they were getting and I said, okay, I’ll put my money where my mouth is. So I emailed them. I said:

I’ve been listening to your morning show since I moved to Boston in 2003. I like you guys, I really do. But I have to say that I’m increasingly uneasy with the direction your jokes and humor have been taking the past year or so. You’ve always danced on the edge of kind of offensive, but not hateful. The cracks about Billy’s sexual orientation, and Gay Jim have always made me uneasy, but I figure that this is part of the persona, and Billy has consented to it. His role is the Butt Monkey, and he’s not actually insulted. I assume that what you play on the air is a role, and you aren’t like this In Real Life.

But the cracks, especially about fat women, have crossed the line to hateful. The most recent example is using the “large truck backing up beeps” over Susan Boyle singing is very clearly fatphobic, misogynistic, and hateful. The message you send with that sound cue is “how dare this woman who is not conventionally attractive and thin be out in the world, in public, being fat at us?”

I’m sure there’s a part of you that will assume that I’m fat, and that’s why I’m offended (or if I’m not, why do I care if you make fun of fat women?). The answer is that it doesn’t matter if I am or not. I’m a person who doesn’t find this funny, and actually finds this to be incredibly damaging. With all the recent suicides of kids due to bullying, I think it’s irresponsible to encourage making fun of people for their gender, weight, sexual orientation or band geekery on the air.

I don’t actually expect you to change what you’re doing, and I don’t know if I’m going to keep listening (but I’m one person- why would you care about the listnership of one person?) but I would be irresponsible myself if I didn’t say something.

They had one of the producers respond that “they don’t mean to offend anyone (I know that’s a frustrating answer).”

Which, yeah it is. Because intent isn’t magic, and “I didn’t mean to offend you” doesn’t change the fact that people are offended. But that’s not really my point.

My point is that public figures have a lot of influence, and deciding what to mock has an effect on what other people mock, and how they do it. I know that Matty have four daughters, and it’s clear to me from how he talks about them that he loves them a lot. And I’m loathe to drag the kids into it, because dragging the children of public figures into a debate is disingenuous (ask Jessica Valenti about it sometime). But by extension their dad is encouraging the bullying of other people by example.

I think we’ve seen, in a very public way, what happens when kids get bullied relentlessly, and the bullies are supported by churches, politicians, The Boy Scouts of America, the schools, the bullies’ parents, the victim’s parents, and a hundred thousand things ranging from “that’s so gay” to “you’re going to rot in hell.” They are already IN HELL.

In my case, my bullies were popular football players, adored by the school, supported by the teachers. I still had friends, but they didn’t really stand up for me because they knew, in the sociopathic way teenagers know, that would draw fire to them. Sure, they supported me in private, but not in public. I can’t, now, at 13 years removed, blame them. And I didn’t really blame them then. What I did blame, and still do blame, is the school.

Because the school knew. They knew everything. The main point of contact between me and my bullies was a Japanese class. The teacher was a native-born Japanese woman, and from a culture that told women to silently endure, and she couldn’t understand why I found their repeated taunts, threats and mockery so horrible. So she didn’t do anything. My parents complained to the school. The school did nothing. You see, my high school was an International Baccalaureate School. I was not a candidate for an IB diploma. Three out of the four bullies? Were. And the ringleader was on the football team and one of the bright and shining stars of the school. I was not as valuable to the school as the bullies, so I was acceptable collateral damage.

Until Junior year, when I finally snapped. I had enjoyed learning Japanese, but now even doing the homework was anxiety provoking. I tried one last time to explain to Sensei French (yeah, I know. Ironic.) how horrible this was for me and could she please do something? She instead focused on my statement that I was concerned she didn’t try to fix the problem because she didn’t like me. Obviously, she said, the problem wasn’t the boys, obviously the problem was that I needed therapy (holy shit, I had forgotten about that part until just now).

So I quit. I walked out of that classroom and didn’t look at a Japanese thing again until about ten years later.

And that, dear friends, THAT is when the shit FINALLY hit the fan.

My parents were livid. The school tried to mollify me. They were terrified we’d sue. (We didn’t- I found out some years later that my parents thought I didn’t want to sue, and I thought they didn’t.) They let me do whatever the fuck I wanted for the next year and a half. I started taking Post Secondary classes at the University of Minnesota. Too many credits? No problem, They’d smooth over the paperwork. I got shuffled into a history class with the Lead Bully? (And god bless Ms. Adelsman, the history teacher, for letting me know about it in time to do something about it. Some adults had my back.) I stamped my foot and said switch me out or I’ll never go to class, not ever. Suddenly, I got moved to a different class.

The bullies were told to write me letters of apology. Never got one. (Did find out that the Lead Bully did not get an IB diploma, and that he got fat after high school, which is gratifying in its way. I hope he’s miserable and suffers from erectile dysfunction, too.)

It took about ten years before I could watch a Japanese movie without flinching. My self-confidence is still shaky sometimes. I’m 31 years old, nearly 32, and I look at some of my classmates and I see guys that remind me of the Lead Bully (I could name names at this point. It’s so tempting.) and I want nothing to do with them.

They say that living well is the best revenge, and I love my life. But I see the scars and I wonder who I would have been without that. Would I have been able to make a go of a career in theater? Would I have more success in relationships? Would be as empathetic as I am now? Would I be looking at a career in helping the underdogs that society doesn’t give a shit about? I don’t know who that girl would be, and I mourn her, sometimes.

The difference between me and the Billy Lucas’ of the world is that the entire school wasn’t against me. Not even most of them. The majority didn’t care, and there were enough niche groups that I could hide. The bulk of the problems stopped after I dropped Japanese. Partially because they were told to leave me alone, and partially because they won (I held out as long as I could, and beyond, because I didn’t want them to win and to drive me away from something I loved. It was just when I stopped loving it and actively hated it that I quit. They made me hate it).

Once I got away, I went back to being a white, cisgendered straight female, and while there is plenty of hate directed my way for having the audacity to be female, not thin, and mouthy, it’s nothing like the hate directed at gay youth. Especially those gay youth who don’t have a safe place anywhere in their lives. Not in their homes, not on tv, not in their churches, not in their towns (and not on the radio, Matty). I can understand despair. I can’t imagine the awfulness of finding hate every which way you turn and seeing no way out.

So, some resources:

The Trevor Project, aimed at promoting acceptance of GLBTQ youth and preventing suicide.

The It Gets Better Project. I know there’s been some criticism that it doesn’t always get better, but the situational reality for a lot of these kids is knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and you will have the opportunity to get out of this hell and make your own choices is huge. There’s a world out there, it’s just waiting for you.

The make it Better Porject which has the goal of making things better now.

For those of you who don’t know, Boston and surrounding environs have been under a boil-water order since Saturday. A pipe (if you can use the word “pipe” for something ten feet in diameter) burst just west of Weston (really) and everyone east of Weston to the Atlantic got their water from that pipe. Well, everyone except Cambridge, who have their own special reservoir. (So lots of people who live near Cambridge have been sneaking across the line to swipe their water.) And the emergency reservoirs aren’t necessarily that safe, or whatever, so we have to boil anything we drink or do dishes with or wash our hands with.

Yeah, it’s awesome.

But that’s not the worst part.

Oh no. Not at all.

Across from my law school is a Dunkin Donuts AND a Starbucks. Previously, this was thought to be AWESOME. Now it’s just mean. Because they can’t make coffee without safe water. No safe water, no coffee, DURING FINALS.

Allow me to repeat. DURING FINALS.

The shakes and cranky have been epic, ya’ll. I can’t even tell you. When i went in to school to study on Sunday, I Deliberately went the long way ’round through Cambridge so I could go to the Dunkin Donuts at Porter Square.

WHICH WAS MOBBED. Line out the door. People driving in from all over. I was impressed with the counter staff- they handled it pretty well. (I’m told I should think it’s sad that so much of society is addicted to caffeine. I say GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY WHO ARE YOU TO STAND BETWEEN ME AND MY COFFEE?) (I am my mother’s daughter.)

This morning I had a review for Civil Procedure, and didn’t have time to detour into Porter Square. I figured that odds were about even that the coffee kiosk at Sullivan Square would be operating. Sullivan Square is in a weird nexus between Charlestown, Somerville and Cambridge. When I got off the bus, I was greeted by a sign that said “WE MAKE OUR COFFEE WITH SPRING WATER.”

(cue angel chorus)

Of course, the looks I got from people when I walked into the review session clearly thinking indicated how many people would be willing to try and roll me for my coffee. But my fearsome reputation proceeds me.

Now, I have been called Oracle (not as in “of Delphi” as in “Former Batgirl, knower of all knowledge”) because I always know what’s going on, and all sorts of other obscure knowledge. So when Universal Hub came out with the list of places that ahd coffee, I obligingly reposted it to Facebook (because I’m not mean. I’m apparently an evil witch who makes people look stupid in class, but that is a whole other ball of crazy). Which lead to people going “how do you know what’s going on ALL THE TIME?”

I do because not knowing drives me crazy.