I Know What’s Funny: Thoughts on Pedophilia

“Okay here’s the the thing: I have two children and the thing that scares me the most is that they disappear.  There is nothing that scares me more than them disappearing; that’s every parent’s worst fear.  Now why do kids disappear sometimes?  I think it’s because somebody took them and had sex with them.  And once you have sex with a kid you have to toss them because people hate folks who have sex with kids — more than pretty much anybody.  If you murder somebody, folks will find you a reason – ah, you were upset, you were dehydrated, whatever. So if you have sex with a kid you gotta chuck ’em out cause if the kid tells anybody, you’re screwed.  I can’t help thinking that if we could take down a few notches the hatred for people having sex with kids, at least you’d get the kid back.  So what I’m trying to say is that the guy could just call you, ‘Hey, I just fucked your kid. You want me to take them to soccer, or drop them at your house? Does he have any nut allergies because he just ate some cashew butter out of my ass.’ I know. Listen, listen, listen to me, listen to me, I know that’s hard to hear. I know that’s hard to hear, but it’s true.  It’s true that if we minded child molesting less, less kids would die; that’s true.  Now, I don’t know what to do with that information.  I don’t have a way to apply that to anything that’s helpful.”
— dialogue excerpt from the television show Louie, season 1, episode 10, FX channel

Last Friday I went against my little rule about debating on Facebook. I ended up in a bit of a back-and-forth on this photo in my newsfeed.

pedophile-animal testing
I broke down and commented because I’m losing my mind over all the rationalizations of violence I see these days. Ones like, “we-have-to-bomb-you-because-that’s-the-only-way-to-bring-peace-to-your-nation,” “anyone-who-rapes-should-be-raped,” or my personal favorite, “I-spank-my-child-to-teach-my-child-that-hitting-is-wrong.”

To me, the logic is so glaringly flawed. More of something begets more of itself, that’s it. Very simple. Yet I fear there will always be masses of asses to defend these broken way of solving issues. It doesn’t matter that starting more wars has never ended war, or that our spanked children still often times grow up and hit people. We as a society still largely insist that these are the solutions. The way to make it all better.

And then we have what I commented upon. This photo, hinting that it would be a right and good thing if inhumane testing normally reserved for animals were instead performed on humans incarcerated for crimes associated with pedophilia.

The thrust of this is of course that these people are so disgusting, so monstrous, that as punishment we should be able to do whatever we deem fit. They deserve no respect, they deserve no choice in what happens to their bodies, they in now way deserve any compassion. Basic recognition for the sacredness of life does not apply to them. Instead, they are worthy only of the pain and victimization we heap on non-humans through our shitty rationalizations of dominion over the animal kingdom.

I commented that all lives matter, and I didn’t see how victimizing someone who victimizes others was any decent solution. To be clear, I wasn’t – and am still not – trying to champion pedophiles in any way. Their actions are horrible, and they cause unspeakable pain. To overlook or diminish that in any way is to add more hurt to hurt.

The thread conversation rapidly devolved from there, hitting a nice low when a fellow Facebooker informed me that the real issue is my lack of ability to relax and understand tongue-in-cheek humor.


So this is supposed to be funny?! I just need to loosen up and let the humor sink in? I have my doubts. And I’m pissed that dispersions on the character of my funny bone have been cast.

I know a little bit about what’s funny. I can appreciate and participate in all sorts of humor. From mediocre dick jokes to Dame Edna and British comedies, I’m down with the giggles. I watch cartoons. I’ve read books written by comedians. I wrote my first good joke when I was eleven (and my second good joke when I was thirty seven). I have made people laugh. Not just therapists, real people. My aunt Patty has told me no less than once that I should consider stand-up comedy, and I don’t think that’s just because I haven’t had a real job in a long time. And if all that wasn’t enough, I have real proof. A dive bar drunk once side-ambled up to me and offered to buy me a drink, because I kinda looked like Sarah Silverman. So you see, I know funny. I am funny – and not just in a special needs way. Therefore I am particularly qualified to let you know: This shit ain’t funny.

Part of the reason there is no humor in abusing inmates is because it is in fact not a moot point, as asserted in the post commentary. Unfortunately, it is all too true. We have a long and gross history of doing monstrous things to those we’ve locked up for doing monstrous things.

No one should ever look to me, or this blog for a history lesson, but here’s a nice summary of the fuckery to which I am referring:

“Until the early 1970s most pharmaceutical research was conducted on prisoners—everything from studying chemical warfare agents to testing dandruff treatments.”

You can read more from this article here. A brief, but more complete look at our history of involuntary experimentation on our prison populations can be found here.

All lovely stuff. So you see, we’ve already been awful. Even supposed humor about more of the same doesn’t make for a civil society, but rather an asshole one.

These days there is mounting scientific data that points to brain abnormalities in people with pedophilia. Whether we should come to accept pedophilia as a true mental illness is probably up for near infinite amounts of debate. However, we do all seem to agree for the most part that acting on any impulses associated with pedophilia is horrendous – and wrong.

So does Louie have a valid point? If we could develop more compassionate ways of dealing with people with pedophilia, would we see less victimization of children? When it comes to more repulsive crimes, if we dimmed our burning torches a bit, could we help more people before they harm?

Like Louie, I don’t have a bunch of answers either. It just disheartens me that there is so much dickishness in the world. It makes me wonder what in the hell is wrong with us. Are we ever going to figure it out?

Later that day I went back to the thread. This time I clicked back to the very first poster of this image. It was a public Facebook page with many followers, thousands who had commented or hit “like” on the original post. This comment though, had the most “likes” of all. It was at the top, it bolstered my spirit, and was the only thing on this subject that gave me a real reason to smile.


The Coyote

Sunning Coyote by Richard Spencer

Sunning Coyote by Richard Spencer

For many of you, this will be the only thing you need to read to decide that I am a giant nutbag, so file this away: I sent a coyote good thoughts today. (The doggy-style kind of coyote, not the human trafficker kind. I’m not that crazy.)

That’s right. I paused on my back porch this afternoon as I watched a wild animal lope across the small ridge behind my house, and I briefly held it in my mind’s eye and sent it well wishes for its journey, wherever that may lead.

In my estimation, coyotes catch very few breaks from us in this life, and that bums me out. We have contests to kill them. We devalue their place in the eco-system. A lot of people have pretty much just decided they suck, and that’s one hell of a label to have to try and outrun. But I sure hope this one is able to do it. The world needs more underdog victories.

Maybe coyotes remind us too much of ourselves to escape our wrath. If there’s anything humans have proven, it’s that they plan to be the only clever opportunists to thrive on this planet.

So good luck, coyote friend. I wish you well. You’re gonna need it.

If you stripped a dog of its social eagerness,
gave it a loping indifference to human presence
and starved it, you’d have a coyote,
stalking like a shadow among the garbage cans
at the top of Pearl Street, near the Fine Arts Work Center.
We’re heading back to our car through a fine mist,
the streetlights haloing amid the black trees,
and we stop, watching him appear and disappear
gaunt as a Giacometti. He’s nothing
like a dog bounding into the street.
Does he care if this is a street?—or just a hard place
under his paws. Ever since childhood
I’ve tried to be alert to what people are up to,
but why not see the coyote’s point of view?—
how he prefers to ignore them,
following his own track through the darkness.

“The Coyote” by Alan Feldman from Immortality.

If you’d like to learn more about coyote friends, including tips and tricks on how to haze these poor bastards – check this out.

Fifty Shades of Green, Purple, and Yellow

My adventures in mammograms

I had a mammogram today. I didn’t feel anxious about it all, to be honest. Which is actually a bit odd, because I have always figured breast cancer is probably the way I will end up going down. My mother died at thirty seven of the disease.

There’s always been a subversive undercurrent of “your-mom-got-it-you’re-probably-going-to-get-it” in my life since then. Whether it was relatives warning me that my chances of getting sick were high, or western medicine picking and choosing what one should panic about, it’s just always been there.

I had my first mammogram twelve years ago. I don’t remember worrying about that one either, that is until they called me to tell me they found a pea-sized mass that was going to have to be removed. I laid flat on my back, with a small white towel over my right breast, while my left one was shot through with syringes of Novocain. A big hollow needle micro-osterized the mass, blending up the tissue while simultaneously suctioning it into a hollow tube to be sent to a lab. While I waited for the results, I watched my boob turn many different colors. Day one was a deep purple that gave way to something more lavender by the end of day two. At day four we were into the dull greenish-yellows as my body reabsorbed the blood left behind by the invasion.

Eleanor relishing the joys of motherhood while my brother squirms like an idiot and I pick my nose.

The results came back benign. I still have a small metal piece in my breast. It’s called a target. Surgeons like those so they can hit the spot when they open you up. No one opened me up and no one seemed to care that this little piece of shrapnel was going to be left inside me.

“Do you have children?” The tech’s voice brought me back.
“No,” I said.
“That’s okay,” she told me in a volume that trailed off.

Her response seemed so automatic, instinctive almost, like she was used to women like me being in this room, completely distraught that they weren’t already mothers.

“I’m blissfully barren,” I offered, laughing a little to ease the awkwardness.
She laughed too.

I was being honest. I had never wanted to be a mother.

And then a sudden wave of emotion washed through me. My throat started to throb, and my heart sank for my own mother. She had actually wanted children. She had hoped to raise her two kids. She wanted to live to see us grow. She got none of that.

And somehow, even though I know we aren’t the same person, I often feel like a replacement who is not doing a very good job. A flopsweat imposter. I’ve outlived her; what do I have to really show for it? I feel like there is something more I should have in place by now to prove I deserve the extra time that was taken from her.

I pretended to have something in my eye to try and mask the welling that had come up. I got through a few more questions and then it was time to take the images.

She didn’t ask me to whip out a boob, as I expected, she asked me to take out my left arm. Guess what that does in one of those flappy hospital gowns? That’s right, your boob pops out while you are trying to free up your arm. I love Western sensibilities. We hyper-sexualize almost everything, yet we are so awkward and fearful about real human sexuality. God forbid we just ask a woman to expose her breast during a breast exam.  No, no – be decent! Request she remove her arm.  So I got my boob arm out and we were off.

Most of my mammography took place to the score for Jurassic Park. It was playing on a small boombox off in the corner. It was the really powerful piece of music that played when they first rose over that grassy hill and saw dinosaurs everywhere, eating and enjoying their prehistoric lives. It worked well for me. Made me feel strong and maybe like I could outsmart my catastrophic history as well.

I got my right arm out next and you know what followed. The second round of images involved much more compression and I tried to break up my discomfort with humor.

“This gives a whole new meaning to fifty shades of gray.”
Crickets. Blank look.
“That was an x ray joke. You know, the grayscale of imaging?”
Polite laughter followed as she let me off the hook with, “Ohhh, right. I guess so.”

Apparently my breasts photograph well. One round of images, and I was free to go.

As I wrapped the gown back around myself for the trip across the hallway to the little dressing room where my clothes waited, the technician leaned forward with a concentrated focus on the screens in front of her. I could see my shrapnel in one image, casting solid and black at the top of my breast.

“That target, you’ll have that forever,” she said, glancing at me.
“I know,” I quietly returned as I walked out the door, wishing her a good day.

Velvet Elvis

Anne and D-asaurus
Anne and me just fourteen short years later, making soup.

Trigger warning: Bad shoes, an even worse jacket, and a velvety body bag.

It was almost 3:00 in the morning when I opened the door. Two men, both smiling at me under the porch light. “Hello, we’re here for John” was all they said in explanation. I got a better look at these guys as they stepped into my living room. They both were dressed in black, and the one with the ponytail had on a mint condition, Members Only jacket. The other guy had black sneakers that looked to be one size too big, the material buckling around the velcro straps from being pulled so tight. I motioned to the first door across the hall and they left the room.

Anne and I plopped down on the couch exhausted. We had been sitting with John all night. He slipped out of consciousness in the late afternoon. His hospice nurse had me doing check-in calls every two hours so she could adjust his medicines if needed. He had passed just before midnight. Cremation had been his request, and the Neptune Society was here to do that.

I caught sight of a pack of cigarettes in one of the front pockets on Members Only guy when he walked back through the room to the front door. “We need a few things from the vehicle” I nodded as he stepped out, and looked at Anne again. We were both numb – and tired. I felt like I had been crying for seven months, and I knew I was going to be back at it soon enough. For now, rest; helping someone die was a hell of a lot of work.

John had mumbled all afternoon, as if talking in his sleep. By early evening he was only breathing. We would sit and watch him as we held his hands. It was a deep heavy breathing that seemed to involve much more exhaling than inhaling. When his hands got cold, and his body began to sweat, we told him stories, let him know it was okay for him to go if he needed to. We were offering anything we thought might make his transition easier. I even told him I would be okay, which felt like a complete, but necessary lie. Just before midnight, even the breathing stopped and he was gone.

The room fell silent, and I was the one leaving, floating, traveling over all the memories John and I had made. How we met at the college, and the awkward start to our dating. I remembered driving around in his convertible that Spring, blasting Beethoven, completely thrilled with ourselves. I saw our garden and our pond, with the hand picked, ten-cent goldfish, now fat and swirling the top of the water, checking for food. I heard our ducks in the yard, rooting for bugs in the soft dirt around the sapling Camphor tree we planted.

And then it was just John. His smile, his laugh, his jokes about my cooking, his reminder before this moment, that nothing that happens after his death could change anything that we had before.

He was in our bedroom changing his clothes the first time he told me that. I could never get over how skeletal he had become with this cancer. He was always trying to eat, and it never seemed to help. As he changed his shirt that afternoon, I couldn’t help but think it still looked like it was on the hanger. I didn’t want to hear what he had to say, but he insisted, and I gave him my attention. “There is nothing that can change what we have. Even if you got a boyfriend the day after I died, it wouldn’t change anything. It would be nice if he wasn’t better looking than me though, just a thought.”

The last time we ate out, we had just been to see the oncologist. The doctor had just told us that the weekly blood work showed the cancer was no longer responding to the chemotherapy. We sat quietly in a booth at the restaurant down the street, dejected, waiting for food we were going to push around our plates. I was so angry that we weren’t going to have even just a little more time. It had only been a few months for Christ sake! We had been positive, we had done everything they told us we should do. Had all the tests, took all the medicines, sat together for every chemo session, doing Readers’ Digest word puzzles while the IV meted our time together, in it’s succession of drips. I was considering a grouping of pictures, as I stared at the wall over John’s right shoulder. Who did these people belong to? Where did they come from? How did they come to hang on this wall in the middle of a chain restaurant dining room? John’s voice snapped me back to our table. “I think taking care of someone who is dying, is harder than the actual dying. Thank you sweets.”

When Members Only came back in he had a surfer’s grip on a yellow backboard and was carrying a deep red, velvety body bag. I leaned in towards Anne as we watched him join his buddy back in the bedroom, whispering, “Dude, did you see that body bag? All velvety? It’s fit for Elvis!” We both stifled our chuckles.

Velcro Sneakers appeared and asked if we wanted to say anything else to John before they zipped him up. Saying goodbye to my husband in a body bag, even if it was a Velvet Elvis body bag, was a little more than I could do. I politely declined and they both returned a few moments later with John, ready to leave.

I opened the front door for them and then Anne and I stood there watching. They had a whole flight of stairs to navigate. There were three steps down to the landing, where the stairs made a 90 degree angle and went the rest of the way to the first floor of the duplex we owned. If they miscalculated the landing, John could slide of the end of the board and arc on to the front lawn below. Crumpling the majesty of the velvet Elvis bag.

That’s when Velcro Sneakers caught the edge of the step and John lurched towards Members Only. Velcro Sneakers quickly regained his balance, and they both nervously smiled up at us as if to say, No worries – we weren’t really going to drop him.

“Did you see that? Near Velvet Elvis disaster!” We both laughed, and it felt good.

Meditating in the Face of Death

I almost died outside today. I was sitting in a chair, with my eyes closed, when the dried leaves about five feet to my left started rustling. I was only about thirty seconds in to my fifteen minute commitment of sitting with my eyes closed when I realized I was in trouble.

Now normally these little sits are agonizing enough all on their own. I never get where I’m supposed to be. I don’t transcend, I never squelch the brain chatter, I hardly even manage to sit still. So you can see where I hardly need impending doom heaped on the pile.

But it was. If my eyes had been open, I’d mostly probably have been staring death right in the face.

I started to wonder what was going to kill me. Obviously it was a very large animal that was creeping towards me; using my lack of movement and eye contact as a green light to devour me, but what kind of large animal?

I narrowed down the possibilities to bear, mountain lion, and Sasquatch.

The leaves even closer to me rustled and I knew it was almost time. Soon my jugular would be gnawed out and I would bleed to death in my little plastic patio chair.

Life’s biggest questions raced through my mind. Had I lived a good life? Had I made a positive difference in the world during my forty years upon it? Did I have clean panties on? But there was no time. I had to settle up. Make peace.

My timer went off. I hastily completed the closing ceremonies on my meditation and flew open my eyes. I jerked my head to the side to meet my fate. I was ready. Please let it be swift.

And there it was, menacing, waiting for me.


I will never know why it didn’t finish me off when it had the chance, but I’m grateful. I will take my new lease on life out into the world and do better.






They were waiting for pizza when he told her she seemed miserable a lot. She had been using the side of her nail to scrape at the skin on her other hand. She heard him as she finally got the three tiny splinters out of the side of her ring finger. It felt satisfying to gouge away the small patch of calloused skin and liberate these tiny pieces, separate herself from them. They had been there for quite a while; it was time.

She registered his words with the usual wave of shock and warm ooze of shame. Then regret. She knew she shouldn’t have told him anything. No divulging fears, no admitting hopelessness, no sharing the stories of the dead people. Then he never would have known. She sure wouldn’t be paying for it now.

But it always did get to this point. She thinking she was happy enough, pleasant enough, even keeled enough, doing enough for others, and they – whoever – being overpowered by the darkness anyway.

The darkness had been there as long as she could remember, much longer than the splinters, but not unlike them. Both were unnatural additions at first, but then had settled in and become part of her. Painful at the moment of impact, but then the pain had dulled to something entirely tolerable. She hardly knew she was walking around with it all anymore, until someone experienced it and reminded her.

She did her best to look at him without giving away how small she was feeling. She tried to sound casual, “I don’t feel like eating here. They don’t look like they’re ready for customers.” He sat across the small table from her, quiet, watching. She didn’t care. All she wanted at that point was to get herself to a safe place. Home. Where she could be alone and awful and it would burden no one.

As a child she would wish to be gone from sight often. Anything to avoid the adults that seemed so put-out having her around. She was young and sad, they were old and all business. Not particularly interested in the care and feeding of their younger brother’s two little kids that had recently lost a mother. Sometimes it got better if she did things for them, like helped with laundry or yard work, but mostly it was easier if it was more like she didn’t exist.

His voice brought her back, “where do you want to eat then?” Fuck the pizza; she wanted to run. “Maybe I should just go home, so you can enjoy the rest of your day off. I didn’t realize you considered me to be so unhappy.” There was a pause and then he offered, “Well, that’s one option, but I don’t want you to go.”

He told her he didn’t need to be apart from her. He didn’t need her to stop sharing. He wasn’t asking for a different person. He wished for her to see her potential and the ways in which she limited herself. He wished for her to take better care of her heart. Then he took her hand and kissed the back of it. The tender gesture broke her tension and need to be gone from him.

Their order arrived. The top of the box was printed with a grayscale image of a European cobbled road curving alongside an old stone building. They took the pizza and snuck it into a pub down the street, tipping the bartender with a slice and a five dollar bill for looking the other way.

This time they sat side by side at the small wooden table. They took long pulls from their dark beers as they watched the sun set over the water. The pizza was delicious, warm and flavorful. Her finger hadn’t felt this good in quite a while.

What I Do

gregson poemLast night I fucked up a little bit and hurt someone I care an awful lot about.

In the fearful moment I realized it, I worried tremendously about loss. It’s what I do.

Things got better. They got ironed out, talked through, apologetic. But this morning I was still pushing some regret and remorse around in my head. It’s what I do.

So I was sitting with it rolling around up there, and sipping some coffee, when I came across this poem.

And I read it and remembered: as scary as losing people can be, the bigger loss, the scarier outcome, is a life where you haven’t found – and loved the hell out of – yourself.

Perhaps you already know that. I have to remind myself quite often. It’s what I do.


Poopacin - a life

I lost Ruth today. My little pup, not my cousin (details are important).

We had just over fifteen years together, and my heart has a crack in it tonight from her departure. But the crack makes room for a boatload of gratitude that we had that much time together, and that’s a good thing.

I was a twenty four year old newlywed when Ruth came into my life. She was my first dog. We grew up together in a lot of ways. The little eight week old pound puppy that kind of looked like the love child of some aggressive back alley action between a rat and a squirrel.

But the Ru was a scruffalicious force of the Awesome. She charmed people almost everywhere she went. An intrepid little soul. Even as an old lady, she was always the first one up in the morning, and had twice the energy of the other two dogs less than half her age.

Ruth lived by two rules: let’s be together always, and let’s eat. They were great rules (especially if you are going to spend a decade and a half with an Italian). I hope I did her love, devotion, and time justice.

I don’t have much shit figured out, so I can’t say for sure, but I hope Ruth’s awesome little dog light shines on on the other side.

Rest in peace pup. Big loves.